Gan hosts international storm research team

The Maldives will host the first in-depth study of equatorial tropical storms between the Maldives and Papua New Guinea, conducted by two dozen research organisations from 16 countries and based on Gan in Addu Atoll.

The team will use airplanes, ships, radars, and approximately 1,500 weather balloons to study the birth, life and death of tropical storms along the equator, particularly the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). These storms affect weather world wide.

Maldives Meteorology Services (MMS) are local sponsors of the project, which was designed by the US Energy Department’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) climate research facility. MMS is providing local weather knowledge, meeting and operations space, and facilities; researchers in turn will offer training on radar and other instrumentation to local meteorologists.

According to the ARM facility, MJO dominates “tropical intraseasonal variability” but few climate models are able to predicts its effects. “AMIE-Gan will measure the area where the MJO begins its eastward propagation, observing the atmosphere, ocean, and air-sea interface,” the facility states.

The MJO affects regional weather patterns such as the Asian and Australian monsoons. Initiating every 30 to 90 days, it can also contribute to hurricane activity in the northeast Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, as well as trigger torrential rainfall along North America’s west coast.

MJO can also affect the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean known as El Nino, which disturbs rain patterns.

MMS Deputy Director General Ali Sharif said the Maldives was strategically chosen.

“The Maldives was selected because the team is looking for the weather phenomenon Madden-Julian Oscillation. The team chose Addu because it is the closest location to the equator in the Maldives.”

The project’s main observation sites will be based in the Maldives, Diego Garcia, the maritime continent, and Manu Island. The Maldives’ Super Site with a majority of radar equipment will be at Gan, and research ships and aircraft will operate in the Indian Ocean as well.

Radar and other equipment have been set up along an 8 kilometre path in the atoll. A meteorological array will use seven different frequencies to scan clouds and precipitation from the Super Site at Gan.

Results gathered at Gan under the AMIE-Gan project will complement results gathered at Manus under the AMIE-Manus project to “allow studies of the initiation, propagation, and evolution of convective clouds within the framework of the MJO,” ARM states.

Sharif said the project could add valuable knowledge to regional climate change.

“It is becoming more important  to understand how oceans regulate the earth’s temperature.” Sharif added that the Maldives temperatures have seen a minor “rising trend.”

The AMIE project is operating under the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a facility of the U. S. Department of Energy. AMIE team leader Chuck Long said conditions in the Indian Ocean remain relatively mysterious.

“The MJO fires up primarily in the Indian Ocean during winter in the northern hemisphere, covering an area several thousand kilometers across. It moves eastward and when it hits the maritime continent — all those islands in Southeast Asia, it weakens. Why?” asked Long. “And why does it initiate in the Indian, not in the equatorial Atlantic or Pacific? What is so special about the conditions in the Indian Ocean? These are some of the questions we must answer to understand the MJO and represent it in forecast and climate models.”

AMIE will be working with two other research collaborations during this Indian Ocean campaign, Dynamics of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (DYNAMO) and Cooperative Indian Ocean Experiment on Intraseasonal Variability in the Year 2011 (CINDY). DYNAMO’s team is being led by the University of Miami. CINDY is an overarching international effort and is being led by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.

Research staff and/or facilities have been contributed by Australia, China, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. US scientists, students, engineers, and staff from 16 universities and 11 national laboratories and centers are participating in the field campaign.

The investigation experiment (AMIE) is scheduled to start in October and run through March 2012. Opening ceremonies on October 8 will celebrate the international cooperation behind the project, which PNNL said will lead to a better understanding of Earth’s climate.


MNDF warns seafarers to be cautious of bad weather

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has warned that the seas of the Maldives will be rough with heavy showers and strong winds predicted, and has warned seafarers to be aware of the bad weather and not to overload any boats.

In a press release issued the MNDF said that the Maldives will experience rough weather for the next 24 hours, including strong winds of up to 40-50 miles per hour throughout the country.

‘’We appeal to seafarers to be cautious of the bad weather condition and to check the weather forecast before setting off sail,’’ the MNDF said in the press release. ‘’Also, make sure life jackets are readily reachable for the passengers and that all vessels contain water pumps.’’

MNDF also requested boat captains to keep to the sea safety regulations while travelling by sea.

Director General of National Meteorology Centre Ahmed Shareef told Minivan News that no incidents were so far reported to the centre.

‘’No one has officially reported us any incidents that occurred due to bad weather, but I have seen media reports of an incident occurred in Thulusdhoo in Kaafu Atoll,’’ Shareef said. ‘’I read in that the island has flooded due to swells.’’

Shareef said the Maldives was currently experiencing bad weather due to North West Monsoon.

‘’Weather forecast show that seas will be rough and strong winds will be experienced with lots of rain until Thursday,’’ he said adding that the worst weather will be focused in the central area of the Maldives.

He also noted that swells and rough sea with strong winds were not uncommon for this time of year.


Wind fells 500 year-old Banyan tree in Kuribi

A strong wind blew down a 500 year-old Banyan tree in Kuribi of Haadhaalu Atoll, which was believed to be among the ancient relics remaining on the island.

Island Councilor Abdul Wahid told Minivan News that the tree fell down on Friday afternoon at around 3:00pm due to a strong wind that came with the rain clouds.

”The wind was blowing faster than 70 km/h,” said Wahid. ”Many coconut palm trees and other trees in the area fell down,”

Wahid said the tree was 125 feet long and was used as a landmark for travelers, as it was visible on the horizon before even the island appeared.

”It would have a diameter of 15 feet and a spread of 200 feet,” Wahid said.

He said that nobody was injured during the incident.

”It fell and hit the outer wall of Hukuru Miskiy [Friday mosque] and damaged the wall,” he said. ”Some other trees in the area were also pulled down.”

He said that the ancient Banyan tree would be put up for auction tomorrow.

An official at the Department of Meteorology (MET) said that its bureau on Hanimaadhoo in Haa Dhaalu Atoll has recorded that Hanimaadhoo experienced strong winds blowing at almost 90 km/h on Friday afternoon.

She said that the heavy rain and strong winds was due to the southwest monsoon,  and added that no tornadoes had been recorded recently.


A solid two days of rain in Nolhivaram, also in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, has caused shin-high flooding.

Island Councilor Hussein Areef said the deluge lasted from Friday morning to 10pm last night, and had caused the water level to rise to to 1.5 feet in some areas.

Eight houses on the island had been flooded, he said, and some trees had died.

Areef said that schools were closed today due to the flood.

”Many trees on island also fell due to the rain and strong wind,” Areef said. ”We are trying to drain the water and we hope we can reopen the schools by tomorrow.”

”Now it is not raining, but the sky is overcasts and by 6:00pm it would start showering again,” he added.