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Prof. Subimal Ghosh

It gives us immense pleasure to disport the remarkable and extraordinary research of Prof. Subimal Ghosh from the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Bombay. Prof. Ghosh has embedded the tiara of his achievements with several diamonds, the brightest of them being the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2019, one of the highest research honours. The accolade was awarded to him as a recognition for his significant contribution to the understanding of how land surface processes influence the Indian monsoon, as well as for improving regional monsoon simulations and predictions. 

Prof. Ghosh dedicates his award to all his students who have worked so hard for the last 1.5 decades and four of his very close collaborators: 

  • Prof. Praveen Kumar- B.Tech. from Civil Engineering, IITB and presently a faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Prof. Raghu Murtugudde- B.Tech. in Aerospace Engineering, IITB and presently a faculty at the University of Maryland (also visiting faculty at IIT Bombay).

  • Prof. Subhankar Karmakar- Faculty at the CESE Dept., IITB

  • Prof. Auroop Ganguly, Faculty at Northeastern University.

Prof. Ghosh believes that monsoon is one of the most complex meteorological phenomena and the implications of the land processes on monsoon variations are neglected in the Indian operational monsoon model, i.e., Climate Forecast Model Version 2. One of his Ph.D. students, now an Assistant Professor at IIT Kharagpur, delivered breakthrough work in this field by discovering that moisture from the land contributes to 22-25% of the rainfall during the end of monsoon, which is a huge amount. Hence, Prof. Ghosh has tried to incorporate the feedback from land processes along with various local scale factors (urbanization, Indian agricultural practices, irrigation, etc.) in the simulations of Indian rainfall and meteorological extremes, in addition to Indian agricultural methodologies. His students have also developed remarkable statistical algorithms for regional monsoon projections under climate change that have been put into use by various researchers all over the globe. 

Talking about flood management system, Prof. Ghosh says that he specifically works on alert generation like starting evacuation operations for mitigation of loss if there is a good forecast for flood. After the huge floods in Chennai in December 2015, the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Dr. Chidambaram asked Prof. Ghosh to lead a project on the development of India’s first integrated real-time urban flood forecast system. Along with 30 other scientists from 8 institutes, Prof. Ghosh and his team were able to complete the project in a record time of 1.5 years, which is now handed over to NCCR of Ministry of Earth Sciences. While working on the recent Kerala floods in 2018, Prof. Ghosh and his collaborator Prof. Karmakar also realized that apart from the conventional methods, some other factors like socioeconomic vulnerability, geomorphological vulnerability (like the natural drainage and elevation), and exposure of a region are very necessary to consider. Regions with high vulnerability are high-risk areas and should be prioritised for flood management in order to minimize the losses. 

According to him, the biggest challenge for India currently is the effective dealing of the availability and demand for water. Prof. Ghosh highlights the fact that due to the increase in population and temperature over the last few years, the demand of water is increasing but due to unfavourable monsoons, the availability is decreasing due to which the food cost is also increasing. We have been trapped in this chain of which we need to come out through sustainable irrigation and justifiable water management. 

Prof. Ghosh mentions that since he works on computational hydrometeorological models, his team does not require any instruments as such but only high-performance computing facility for long term simulations and huge storage. This is sufficiently provided to him by the institute as well as other organisations but the only requirement is that of some space for his students to work in the department, which he feels is presently not sufficient. 

Prof. Ghosh is also one of the lead authors in the preparation of Assessment Report 6 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to him, these recognitions won’t bring any major change in his life and career but would definitely lead to greater responsibilities and elevated expectations. And hence, it would just motivate him and his students to follow their passion and continue delivering high-quality research.

Prof. Ghosh expresses his unfeigned gratitude towards all the alumni and students who have actively supported him to reach these heights. 

We wish you great luck and success in your future endeavours.