Research Highlight

Equipped to gauge climate change

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2007.5 Published online 30 May 2007

Automatic weather station in the Himalayas


Amidst concerns over rapid glacier melts and criticism that India is not geared up enough to track climate change, the country's scientists have developed its first infra-red probe to measure snow surface temperature1

The probe, designed by the Central Scientific Instruments Organization in Chandigarh, works round-the-clock in harsh weather. It can withstand temperatures between -40 degrees Celsius and 50 degrees Celsius and wind speeds up to 200 km per hour.

The instrument has been tested in the Siachen region of Jammu and Kashmir and at some points in Himachal Pradesh. Data is transmitted via satellite on an hourly basis to the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) in Chandigarh. "The equipment works on the simple principle that all objects emit infra-red radiation, which is generated by the vibrations and rotations of atoms and molecules within the matter," says CSIO scientist M. A. Shamshi. As temperature increases, molecular activity increases causing the object to generate more energy.

The main component in the IR system is the detector, which converts this radiant energy into electrical energy that can be read by the processor and displayed on a LCD screen. The final output of the probe is in volts and frequency to make it compatible with most snow data recording systems. Temperature sensing probes were earlier imported from countries like Finland and Switzerland. Indigenous manufacture will slash the cost of the equipment by a third and make monitoring a cheaper option in the strategically important region.


  1. Shamsi, M. al. Design & development of infrared technique based snow surface temperature measurement probe. J. Sci. Ind. Res. 66,367-370(2007).