India: India is one of the ten most disaster-prone countries of the world on account of its unique geo-climatic and socio-economic conditions. As per India Disaster Report 2018*, about 58.6% of the region is prone to earthquakes of various intensities, over 12% of the land is exposed to floods and erosion, 8% to cyclones, and 68% to droughts. Thus, managing and mitigating the impact of climate change, the associated risks and the multi-hazards is of significant importance and has garnered a lot of global attention in recent times. Adapting ourselves to the rapidly shifting global paradigms with respect to these areas requires interventions from both technological and governance standpoints. Hence, collaborations between academic institutions, and national agencies in expanding research, academics, and capacity building with a focus on developing impact-based early warning become the need of the hour.
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, ranked the 4th Best Overall University in India in the 2020 NIRF Ranking, and accredited with A++ grade from NAAC in its short history of 18 years, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Ministry of Earth Sciences on Climate Change Risk Assessment Modeling and Multi-hazard Management. This MoU addresses this very need of developing theories and solutions for dynamic multi hazard based risk modeling, assessment, and early warning. This collaborative MoU is intended to unveil the interrelationships of multi hazards with extreme weather scenarios and long term climate change impacts with a specific focus on bringing together experts and students alike to leverage technology along with academic frameworks to solve the pressing challenges in these areas.
The MoU, on behalf of Amrita School for Sustainable Development, UNESCO Chair on Experiential Learning for Sustainable Innovation and Development, Amrita Centre for Wireless Networks and Application, was jointly signed by Dr. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, DGM, IMD, PR of India with World Meteorological Organization (WMO) & Member of Executive Council (EC) WMO and Dr. Maneesha Vinodini Ramesh, Dean, School for Sustainable Development, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
Speaking about the partnership, Dr. M. Mohapatra said, “We are glad to have an MoU with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. I hope that collaboration will be helpful in furthering the research in the field especially in multi-hazard early warnings and improvement of weather and climate forecasts. It will also help in capacity building for both organizations.
Speaking about the partnership, Dr. P. Venkat Rangan, Vice-Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, said, “We are excited to enter into the MoU with India Meteorological Department and are greatly looking forward to the capacity building and degree-awarding programs that are being planned to be rolled out as a part of this collaboration. It is going to immensely benefit the Ph.D. scholars of Amrita School of Sustainable Development as well as the young scientists at IMD”.
Elaborating further on the MoU and the benefits, Dr. Maneesha Vinodini Ramesh, said: “Through this partnership, Amrita and IMD will work towards developing a framework for optimized community based disaster resilience using emerging technologies and integration of interdisciplinary domains. We plan to work together to develop impact based early warning of landslides by heterogeneous data integration and analysis, and develop an ecosystem that will provide the opportunity to share weather forecasts, early warnings and alerts, and devise a crowdsourced mobile application for multi-hazard event management and early warning.
The collaborative thematic research includes six key areas namely:
(a) Develop rainfall threshold models for multi-hazard scenarios like floods, drought, and landslides;
(b) Implement systems for natural hazard monitoring, modeling, and mitigation for developing impact-based early warning systems for selected locations;
(c) Study the impact of climate change and anthropogenic activities on agriculture, water availability and quality, an natural hazards;
(d) Develop geospatial models for variability in groundwater access, water quality, and agriculture crop yield;
(e) Analyze climate change adaptation and mitigation studies to develop a strategic framework for community resilience
(f) Perform geospatial modeling of earth observations by applying state-of-the-art methodologies in the area of big data analysis, statistical downscaling and deep learning modeling.
The key scope of the collaboration includes training and capacity building and introduction of degree-awarding programs for qualified Ph.D. scholars of Amrita School of Sustainable Development, young scientists at IMD office, and faculty of IMD for a short-term course on climate change risk assessment and management. Other focus areas include jointly organizing national/international conferences or workshops, imparting training to graduating engineers and MTech scholars or IMD professionals for completing dissertation and research work leading to a thesis for the award of the Ph.D. degree, and admission of qualified IMD personnel to various PG/Ph.D. programs at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
Guided by Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s Chancellor, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, and inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the Amrita School for Sustainable Development conducts research and provides training to engage in participatory initiatives to foster economic equity along with social and environmental inclusivity for rural communities in India. The school’s academic programmes integrate social, economic, environmental, and cultural aspects of communities while assessing their needs and enables youth across the globe to experience, embrace, empower, and engage through a blend of both experiential and academic learning.