The world’s polar regions and their contiguous oceans are attracting more interest than ever before. Once regarded as barren, inhospitable places where only explorers go, the north and south polar regions have been transformed into high profile sites of scientific research. Be it in understanding the role of the polar realm in modulating the global climate or for studying the ecosystem adaptability and survival under extreme conditions, there has been an increasing interest in the science of the polar realm, over the past two-odd decades. . Realizing the importance of Antarctica as a pedestal for scientific research, India launched the first of her Annual Scientific Expeditions to the Antarctica way back in 1981. This was followed by the country’s successful entry to the realms of Southern Ocean research in 2004 and the Arctic, three years later. To cater to the requirements of the Indian scientists in both the polar regions, two stations “Maitri” and “Himadri” have been established to serve as living-cum-research bases in the Antarctic and Arctic respectively. Another permanent research base in Antarctica is scheduled to be commissioned during the austral summer of 2012.
The focus areas of scientific studies in the Arctic and the Antarctic have been largely confined to earth, atmospheric and biological sciences. As regards the studies of the cryosphere, the research initiatives by Indian scientists in the Antarctic comprise monitoring of the glaciers in Dronning Maudland, studies of ice dynamics and energy balance and climatic reconstructions from ice core analyses. Systematic studies if the cryospheric domain of the Arctic is as yet to be initiated. Considering the significance of the polar ice cap and the sea ice in the polar regions in modulating, if not driving the global climate, it is proposed to initiate during the XII Plan period, a major national mission of cryospheric studies of both the polar regions as well as of the Himalaya.
Last Updated On 05/14/2014 - 17:25