15th Jan. Foundation Day of IMD, 140 Years of Existence

Today is marked as the Foundation Day of IMD, Indian Meteorological Department, to commemorate taking over of H.F. Blanford as Imperial Meteorological Reporter on January 15, 1875.  Not many are aware India is home to some of the oldest meteorological observatories in the world including one in our very own Madras which had an observatory as early as late 18th Century.

Madras_Observatory_1880
The Madras Observatory 1880

East India Company had established a fair bit of observatories during the late 18th century & 19th century.  The first one was set up in Calcutta during the year 1785 and Madras followed (now Chennai) in 1796 for studying the weather and climate of India. The Asiatic Society of Bengal founded in 1784 at Calcutta, and in 1804 at Bombay with the aim to promote meteorological studies could be called as the prelude to the setting up of a dedicated Meteorological Department.

Alipore Observatory set up in 1877
Alipore Observatory set up in 1877

In the year 1875, the Government of India established the India Meteorological Department, bringing all meteorological work in the country under a central authority. Mr. H. F. Blanford was appointed Meteorological Reporter to the Government of India under the Ministry of Revenue, Agriculture & Commerce. On January 15th Mr. H H Blanford took over as the Meteorological Reported to the Government of India and this day is marked as the Foundation Day of IMD.  The first Director General of Observatories was Sir John Eliot who was appointed in May 1889 at Calcutta headquarters. The headquarters of IMD were later shifted to Shimla, then to Poona and finally to New-Delhi.

Observations recorded on 14th July 1868
Observations recorded on 14th July 1868

19th century saw a lot more observatories get established at many places.  In the year 1867 the Central Observatory in Bangalore was established at the famous Bowring Hospital in the city.  1869 saw the observatory get establish at Nagpur in the Mayo Hospital premises.  Ahmedabad saw it own Weather observatory in the year 1893.

Sir Gilbert Walker
Sir Gilbert Walker

During its eventful history since 1875 IMD has seen some luminaries head the organization.  The most notable among them is Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker, who in a quest to understand more about the Indian Monsoon, identified the Southern Oscillation (SOI as its called today).  Though the El Nino Component was identified much later we could possibly say Sir Gilbert Walker in effect laid the seed for identifying El Nino.   Another person who deserves a mention is Mr. P Koteswaram who identified Easterly Jet and its very important role in an active Southwest Monsoon.

Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam Blog wishes to place on record its thanks & appreciation to IMD on its Foundation Day for providing service to the nation and we wish many more years to come from IMD.  

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