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Cyclone Biparjoy: Unveiling the Intricacies of Cyclone Naming

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Cyclone Biparjoy
 
Cyclone Biparjoy is approaching the northern Gujarat coast in the Arabian Sea and is predicted to make landfall on June 15. The Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) of India has cautioned that the cyclone could lead to storm surges measuring 2-3 meters in height, resulting in the destruction of thatched houses, damage to solid structures and roads, flooding, extensive harm to crops, plantations, and orchards, as well as disruptions to railways, powerlines, and signalling systems in the northern and western coastal districts of Gujarat. When it reaches land, Cyclone Biparjoy is projected to generate wind speeds ranging from 125 to 135 kmph, with gusts potentially reaching up to 150 kmph.
The cyclonic storm, Biparjoy, derives its name from Bangladesh, where it is pronounced as ‘Biporjoy’. In the Bengali language, the word “Biparjoy” carries the meaning of ‘disaster’. This particular name was assigned to the cyclone in accordance with the guidelines set forth by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Naming System of Cyclones

Cyclones, powerful and potentially destructive weather phenomena, are bestowed with names that allow for better identification and communication during their occurrence. The process of naming cyclones involves a well-established system that serves multiple purposes, ranging from enhancing public awareness and preparedness to facilitating efficient tracking and reporting of these atmospheric disturbances.

Why is it required to name a cyclone?

The practice of naming cyclones has a rich history that spans several decades and has undergone significant evolution over time. In the early stages of meteorological understanding, cyclones were primarily identified and referred to based on their geographic location. This approach, however, posed a considerable challenge when multiple cyclones occurred simultaneously or successively in the same region. The lack of unique identification caused confusion among meteorologists, the public, and the media, hindering effective communication and response efforts.
Recognising the need for a more efficient and standardised system, meteorological organisations worldwide embarked on the development of a uniform naming protocol for cyclones. This marked a significant shift in the way these weather phenomena were identified and communicated. The adoption of a standardised naming system was motivated by the desire to enhance public awareness, improve communication among meteorological agencies, and enable better tracking and reporting of cyclones.
The establishment of a consistent naming system brought several benefits. Firstly, it allowed for the clear identification of individual cyclones, eliminating the confusion caused by using only geographic locations as references. By assigning unique names to cyclones, meteorologists and the general public could easily differentiate between different storms, even if they were occurring in the same region simultaneously or in quick succession.
Moreover, the adoption of standardised names greatly facilitated communication among meteorological organisations, media outlets, emergency management agencies, and the public. The use of easily recognisable and memorable names made it simpler to relay information related to cyclones, including forecasts, warnings, and safety guidelines. Media reports and public advisories became more effective and accessible, ensuring that vital information reached those in the path of the storm promptly and accurately.
The standardisation of cyclone names also had international implications. By adopting a uniform system, meteorological agencies across different countries could communicate more efficiently and collaborate seamlessly during cross-border cyclone events. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) played a pivotal role in coordinating these efforts, ensuring consistency and resolving any conflicts that might arise due to overlapping cyclone occurrences.

Regional Naming Practices

The naming practices for cyclones vary across different regions of the world, reflecting the unique approaches taken by meteorological organisations in each area. These regional naming protocols serve the purpose of improving identification, communication, and public awareness regarding cyclones.
For example, In the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins, tropical cyclones are named from predetermined lists that alternate between male and female names. This naming system has been in place for several decades and has proven to be effective in distinguishing individual storms and facilitating communication among meteorologists, media outlets, emergency management agencies, and the general public.
The lists of names used for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific basins are carefully curated and updated periodically. The updates occur every few years to maintain cultural sensitivity and avoid the use of names associated with recent devastating storms. This ensures that the naming process does not evoke painful memories or create unnecessary distress for those who have experienced the impact of severe cyclones.
The process of updating the lists involves collaboration and consultation among meteorological agencies, climatologists, and other relevant stakeholders. The goal is to select names that are easily recognisable, pronounceable across different languages, and culturally appropriate. The names chosen often reflect the diverse backgrounds and heritage of the regions affected by tropical cyclones, fostering a sense of inclusivity and connection among the communities.

The Naming Process in the Indian Ocean Region

In the Indian Ocean region, the naming of cyclones follows a collaborative approach involving eight member countries of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC). These countries include India, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The naming process in this region highlights the cultural diversity and heritage of the countries involved.
Each country in the Indian Ocean region proposes a list of names that are specific to their culture and traditions. The proposed names capture the essence of the region’s cultural diversity, including names of mythological figures, historical heroes, flora, fauna, and significant landmarks. The lists are organised alphabetically, and each country’s list is rotated sequentially, ensuring fairness and equal representation.
The collaborative nature of the naming process in the Indian Ocean region fosters cooperation and a sense of shared responsibility among the member countries. By working together, they contribute to the development of a comprehensive and culturally inclusive system of cyclone naming. This approach not only strengthens regional partnerships but also allows for effective communication and coordination in times of cyclone events. The Indian Ocean region’s naming system for cyclones reflects the region’s commitment to acknowledging its cultural diversity while promoting awareness and preparedness among the population. By using names that resonate with the local communities, meteorological organisations strive to enhance public engagement and understanding of cyclone threats.

Retiring Cyclone Names

In the aftermath of particularly devastating cyclones, the practice of retiring names may be employed as a mark of respect and remembrance. When a cyclone causes significant loss of life or extensive damage, its name is permanently removed from the list of future cyclone names. This gesture acknowledges the human toll and the profound impact of the storm on affected communities.
Retiring cyclone names serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it honours the memory of those who lost their lives or suffered as a result of the cyclone. Removing the name associated with the destructive event acknowledges the pain and devastation caused and demonstrates empathy towards the affected communities.
Secondly, retiring names helps prevent confusion or insensitivity in future cyclone events. It avoids using a name that may evoke traumatic memories or be seen as inappropriate due to its association with a devastating storm. This practice ensures that the naming process remains sensitive and respectful, promoting a sense of trust and understanding among the public.

Public Involvement

In some cases, meteorological organisations embrace public involvement in the cyclone naming process. They recognise the importance of engaging the public and fostering a sense of ownership and connection to the weather events that impact their lives. Various approaches are adopted to encourage public participation, such as competitions or public polls.
Meteorological agencies may organise competitions where individuals are invited to propose names for upcoming cyclones. These competitions often have specific guidelines, such as the names being culturally appropriate and easily pronounceable. The public’s submissions are reviewed, and the most suitable names are selected by a panel of experts.
Another approach involves public polls, where citizens have the opportunity to vote for their preferred names from a list of options. This democratic process allows individuals to actively participate in the naming decision and promotes a sense of inclusivity and public awareness.
Public involvement in the naming process enhances public engagement with meteorological information and raises awareness about cyclones and their potential impact. It encourages individuals to stay informed, follow safety guidelines, and take necessary precautions during cyclone events.

Conclusion

The practice of naming cyclones is an essential component of meteorological systems worldwide. It serves to raise public awareness, facilitate effective communication, and streamline the tracking and reporting of these powerful atmospheric disturbances. By understanding the significance behind cyclone names, we can appreciate the immense value they bring to public safety and disaster mitigation strategies.