For Faizan Arif Keng, a 22-year-old youth from the Nawakadal area in Srinagar, life is all about weather forecasting for over five years now. He has been widely applauded by the ex-director of Disaster Management, Aamir Ali, politicians, senior journalists and other people for his accurate weather predictions.
According to Faizan, he provides weather information to many media houses along with the agricultural sector. Besides, he also appeared on several radio stations like 98.3 FM, 95.0 FM, Radio Mirchi etc. Faizan is using weather models like GFS, ARPEGE, GEM, UKMO, ECMWF, ICON, meteoblue’s NEMS, UM, ACCESS and CMA to share weather forecasts.
For the 2020-2021 winter season, he had released a long-range weather forecast in November 2020, becoming the first to do so for the Union Territory. His analysis and reports are taken seriously and published by national-level newspapers and agencies.
He said the World Meteorological Organization has rewarded him with an honourable mention in its WMO 2022 calendar competition. He has over 65,000 followers on Instagram and over 23,000 on Twitter under the handle ‘Kashmir Weather’.
Faizan said he learnt about weather all by himself and his insterest for weather was in-born. Even before getting his first smartphone, he used to watch lightning and thunder by sitting near the window. He used to ask questions to his family members as to “how it is happening, when we are going to see another rain and snow spell etc.”
Faizan learnt forcasting from different websites, Wikipedia pages, books and research papers. He not only provides short-range weather forecasts, his long-term weather forecasts have also proved to be very accurate.
His study based on El Nino-Southern Oscillation and its link to climate forecasts for Jammu and Kashmir has also turned out to be accurate.
As the scope of meteorology is less in India, he has applied for his Masters in Meteorology at universities in the UK. However, Faizan said he needs a good scholarship to pursue his dream of serving his people and the country.
He said that no university in Jammu and Kashmir offers an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in meteorology or atmospheric sciences.
“Even at the India level, only a couple of universities offer postgraduation in meteorology and atmospheric sciences,” he said.
“As climate change is killing a huge number of people directly and indirectly every year, we definitely need more scientists in India whose research can benefit the country a lot,” he said, adding that various institutions should be set up across the country where courses in meteorology, climate change and atmospheric and oceanic physics will be taught.
“The government of India should create more jobs in this field. Many weather enthusiasts believe that choosing this subject will leave them without jobs in future, so they go for different subjects. Their concern is definitely valid as we don’t have many jobs in our country in this field,” he said.
“We need to develop our own high-resolution models which will improve weather forecasting and will help save a lot of lives. This will also save the government from providing relief funds for damages. If not in the short run, in the long run our country will save a lot of money if we create a scope for meteorology in India and take climate change seriously,” the independent weather forecaster said.
Faizan also said that many more weather observatories, automatic weather stations, automatic rain gauges and weather radars are needed across the country, especially in complex terrains like Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.