Desert Locust Forecasting

Desert locust plagues affect about 20 percent of the earth's surface spreading across Africa, the middle east and south-west Asia. They breed in areas that have sufficient soil moisture and vegetation to support the early stages of this insect (viz. egg laying and hopper development). They migrate from west to east along with the passage of troughs moving in the westerlies and northward and southward along with the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). The main weather systems bringing rainfall favourable for the development of desert locust are western disturbances, depressions over Arabian Sea and a few depressions developed over land.

Remotely sensed vegetation indices and rainfall estimates based on cold cloud duration and other cloud indexing techniques are the only cost-effective methods to survey the vast stretches of desert locust habitat.

A few studies have focussed on the collection of historical data on weather and habitat conditions with the dynamics of locust development stages, and synthesis of the data using Geographical Information System (GIS) and evolving decision support systems (Healey et al., 1996). This system integrates remotely sensed landform soil texture, soil moisture and vegetation density with the daily weather data to forecast the suitable breeding sites and time of onset of locust upsurge in and around the study area.

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