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India’s first avalanche warning radar starts operating in Sikkim

India's first avalanche warning system has been installed in Sikkim

In what could be a game changer in terms of early warning system for averting casualties and losses due to avalanches, India has put in place its first avalanche-monitoring radar at Sikkim.

The Avalanche Monitoring Radar which is now operational in North Sikkim has been installed jointly by the Indian Army and Defence Geoinformatics and Research Establishment. It was inaugurated at one of the forward posts of the Indian Army – located at an altitude of 15,000 feet — by Lt. General Tarun Kumar Aich, the General Officer Commanding TriShakti Corps on September 20.

The first of its kind radar in India it is capable of detecting avalanches within three seconds of their trigger by using a series of short microwave pulses scattered at the target. This will go a long way in helping to save valuable lives of troops and civilians as well as property.

Avalanche Warning Radar Sikkim2
The avalanche warning system is capable of alerting about landslides also

It is capable of permanently scanning the targeted slope for avalanche release and tracking its path and size whenever it is triggered.

What makes the radar extremely utilitarian is the fact that it can operate in varied weather conditions like snow, fog, and at night. Covering an area of two square kilometres, this radar eliminates the necessity of using additional instruments in an avalanche-prone zone not necessary.

Linked to an alarm system it provides prior warning to people while it also records images and videos of the event to help experts to study and analyse the avalanche.

The radar serves dual purpose as it can detect landslides also.

DGRE rendered the radar operational in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation. DRDO is involved in forecasting and mitigation of avalanche hazards faced by the Indian Army in the Himalayan Region.