Megamenu

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Polar Science and Cryosphere

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.

PACER encompasses the following six components.

  1. Construction of polar research vessel
  2. Construction of the third research base in Antarctica
  3. Indian scientific endeavours in the Arctic
  4. Polar expeditions-Antarctica
  5. Replacement of Maitri station
  6. Southern Ocean

 

1. Construction of Polar Research Vessel

Ever since the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica way back in 1981, India has been managing the transportation of the expedition personnel and cargo to and back from Antarctica through chartered vessels. However, the very fact that these vessels were basically ice-class cargo vessels rendered them unsuitable for oceanographic research work. Taking into consideration the growing need of the scientific community to initiate studies in the frontier realms of ocean sciences,the uncertainty in the charter-hire of polar vessels and the ever-escalating chartering costs, andthe expansion of our scientific activities into the Arctic and Southern Ocean, MoES during the early part of the XI Plan period, decided to explore the feasibility of constructing and commissioning a polar research vessel which can cater to both the scientific and logistics aspects of the polar and Southern Ocean programmes. As the nodal agency responsible for the implementation of the country’s polar and Southern Ocean programmes, NCPOR was entrusted with the task of planning, co-ordinating and accomplishing the various facets of the work programme. Pursuant to the approvals of the EFC and related competent bodies/authorities, NCPOR initiated the preliminary work towards the implementation of the programme during 2008-09.

Objectives

  1. To construct and commission a research-cum-supply vessel for the Antarctic, Arctic, Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean operations.
  2. To equip the vessel with the state-of-the art scientific equipment/instrumentation to undertake front ranking oceanographic research.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

  1. Finalization of the design specifications including the onboard laboratory instrumentation and infrastructure.
  2. Floating of a Global Tender for the construction and identification of the Shipyard.
  3. Finalization of the Agreement with the identified yard.
  4. Initiation of construction of the polar research vessel (2012-13).
  5. Construction and sea trials (2013-15).
  6. Commissioning of the vessel (2015-16).

Deliverables

When delivered the polar research vessel will cater to the scientific and logistics needs of the Indian scientific endeavours in Antarctica, Southern Ocean and Arctic seas.So far, the expeditions have been launched using cargo vessels with the result that no significant marine scientific experiments could be launched.Owning our own ice breaker vessel will reduce India’s dependence on foreign vessels and give us freedom of planning diverse scientific programs.The ship will also cater to two different Indian stations- Maitri and Bharati- so far as replenishing the lifesaving commodities such as fuel, food and medicines as also other equipment such as snow vehicles, scientific equipment are concerned, thereby saving huge foreign exchange.

 

 

2. Construction of the third research base in Antarctica

The action for the pre-construction work at the Larsemann Hills environs has been completed. All the heavy earthmoving/construction material and cargo were transported from ship to shore either by the two helicopters or by vehicles over the fast ice. About 250 m long road from landing site up to the helipad was also carved out. The construction activities related to Phase II are scheduled to commence during the austral summer of 2011.

Objectives

  1. Commissioning of the research base.
  2. Establishing the laboratories.
  3. Establishment of the requisite communication facilities.
  4. Initiation of scientific studies from the new Indian base.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation plan

The construction and commissioning of the new station is being undertaken in two phases. The first phase of construction which was undertaken through a Service provider identified on the basis of a Global Tender was initiated and completed during the austral summer of 2010. Concurrently, activities for the Phase-II were initiated at NCPOR. Adopting the same procedure as that for Phase-I, a Service Provider was identified through Global Bidding. The construction activities related to Phase II are scheduled to begin during the austral summer of 2011.The station will be occupied in 2012 but facilities such as R.O. System for water supply, construction of jetty, and equipping the station with modern scientific equipment will be taken up subsequently in a phased manner. Construction of Communication and data receiving antennas, establishing a modern medical set up, wind and solar power generating systems and a Met lab will be taken up.

Deliverables

A state-of-the-art year-round research base, Bharati, at Larsemann Hills with living space and laboratory facilities, when dedicated to the nation, will enhance India’s presence and visibility of its Polar Program. The data collected from this sub-aroral region will supplement the Maitri data and together will add scientific endeavors to establish tele-connection of Polar climate to Monsoon. Since the site of the Bharati station in Antarctica, represents an area linked to the Eastern Ghat Mobile Belt of India during Pre- rift period, station will offer excellent opportunity to conduct comparative crustal evolution studies. The station being next to the open sea, will also facilitate studies in marine scientific fields, a field that could not be covered from Maitri. The Station being very close to international hubs of Australia, China, Russia and Romania will enable scientific cooperation with these SCAR nations.

 

3. Indian Scientific endeavours in the Arctic

India began its scientific endeavours in the Arctic in 2007 when a team of five scientists visited the International Arctic Research Facilities at Ny-Ålesund to initiate studies in the fields of Arctic microbiology, atmospheric sciences and geology. Following the success of this initial step, the Ministry embarked on a long-term program of regular scientific activities in the Arctic in the frontier realms of polar biology, glaciology and earth and atmospheric sciences. To date, 57 scientists from 18 national institutions, organisations and universities have participated in the Indian Arctic Programme, which is being co-ordinated and implemented by NCPOR on behalf of the Ministry. The focus areas of research by the Indian scientists at Ny-Ålesund are confined to some of the frontier areas of polar sciences of special relevance to the Arctic realm, such as glaciology, atmospheric science, biology and climate change. A comprehensive long-term Science Plan of research activities by Indian scientists in the Arctic realm has also been developed. To facilitate the Indian activities, a station building has been taken on lease at Ny-Ålesund to serve as India’s Research Base in the Arctic. India is a member of the Ny-AlesundScience Managers Committee (NySMAC)- the apex body responsible for coordinating and advising all the Member Nations on scientific projects at Ny-Alesund. India has also an observer status in the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) since 2011.

Objectives

  1. Continuation of the scientific programs in the Arctic in the fields of atmospheric sciences, climate change, geoscience and glaciology, and polar biology.
  2. Ensuring a prominent and sustained presence of India in the Arctic through initiation of scientific research in some of the frontier realms of polar science.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plans

All the aspects related the planning, co-ordination and implementation of the scientific and logistics aspects related to the Indian Scientific endeavours in the Arctic shall be pursued on behalf of the Ministry.The science component of the work programme would however, be a multi-institutional national endeavour with the involvement of scientists from all major national institutions, laboratories and Universities with a sustained interest in the polar realm.The expeditions would be launched in phased manner from March to September depending upon the requirement of the science objectives.

Deliverables

The scientific studies proposed and being carried out by Indian scientists in the Arctic will be contributing significantly to the global community’s ongoing efforts in understanding the climate change phenomena. In addition, the studies would be providing a wealth of data in such diverse but inter-related fields as earth sciences, biology, atmospheric sciences and climatology.

The success of the scientific program, apart from contributing to the international efforts to understand global issues will also help India in getting entry in the IASC.

 

 

4. Polar Expeditions—Antarctica

The importance of Antarctica as a pedestal for front-ranking scientific research was recognized by Indian way back in 1981 itself, when the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica was launched. Since then, India has made great strides in initiating scientific projects of both national and global relevance as well as in catering to the entire gamut of complex logistics operations called for, in the Annual Expeditions to Antarctica. Experiments mounted by Indian scientists in such disciplines as atmospheric sciences & meteorology, earth sciences and glaciology, biology and environmental sciences have also contributed directly to global experiments mounted under the aegis of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). The Indian research station Maitri has also served as a platform for collaborative studies with some Antarctic Treaty nations i.e. Germany, Italy, France, Poland and the United States of America. It has also facilitated scientists from Malaysia, Columbia, Peru and Mauritius to work in Antarctica.

Following are some of the noteworthy accomplishments of Indian scientific community in Antarctica.

  1. Identification of a number of new species of bacteria from the cold habitats of Antarctica- 30 out of 240 new species discovered so far have been by Indian scientists.
  2. Identification of new genes from the bacteria as genes required for the survival of bacteria at low temperature.
  3. Identification of a number of lipases and proteases active at low temperatures and useful for the biotechnology industry.
  4. Preparation of comprehensive geological and geomorphological maps of the Schirmacher Oasis.
  5. Studies of cold adaptability of human beings in the harsh environment of Antarctica which have provided significant baseline data for use in similar studies on India’s armed forces serving in the Himalaya.

Objectives

  1. Continuation of the scientific programs in the Antarctica in the fields of atmospheric sciences, climate change, geoscience and glaciology, human physiology and medicine, polar biology and environmental science.
  2. Initiating novel programmes in the frontier realms of polar science, viz. Assessment of microbial diversity in Arctic and Antarctic: Past and Present; Environmental monitoring and health of the Indian Antarctic Stations in pursuit of Antarctica-Treaty-System and its governance; Long-term monitoring and modeling of precipitation over Antarctica; and Satellite-based monitoring Antarctic sea ice and land ice topography, with special focus on glaciers.
  3. Ensuring a prominent and sustained presence of India in the Antarctica through initiation of scientific research in some of the frontier realms of polar science including paleo-climate reconstruction from the Antarctic coastal water.
  4. Continue to play a lead role amongst the nations with a sustained presence in Antarctica.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

As in the previous years, all the aspects related the planning, co-ordnation and implementation of the scientific and logistics aspects related to the Indian Scientific Expeditions to Antarctica shall be undertaken by NCPOR on behalf of the Ministry. The science component of the work programme would a multi-institutional national endeavor with the involvement of scientists from all major national institutions, laboratories and Universities with a sustained interest in the polar realm.

Deliverables

The scientific studies proposed and being carried out by Indian scientists in Antarctica will be contributing significantly to the global community’s ongoing efforts in understanding the climate change phenomena. In addition, the studies would be providing a wealth of data in such diverse but inter-related fields as earth sciences, biology, atmospheric sciences and climatology.

 

 

5. Replacement of Maitri station

It is proposed to rebuild the Maitri station during the XII Plan period, incorporating the modern energy conservation systems i.e. CHP units and integrated power generation through wind energy and solar power, a waste conservation and waste disposal strategy through appropriate redesign of wastewater treatment and disposal system capable to recycle treated water to meet Environmental Protocol, integration of summer camp modules with necessary facilities to act as separate residential units and updating the laboratories facilities along with keeping provision for additional rooms and facilities for unforeseen activities in immediate future.

Objectives

  1. Maitri station, built in 1988-89 was assigned a life of about ten years considering the harsh Antarctic weather. The station has outlived its projected life more than two times. A two member expert team drawn from SERC-CSIR and EIL deputed to study the health of the station had pointed out the weakness of the structural columns on which the station stood.
  2. Since Maitri is gateway to the interior mountains of Antarcticaand has important observatories that need to continue to collect vital met, geophysical and geological data, its continuation is essential for achieving the scientific goals of India in Antarctica.
  3. It is therefore proposed to rebuild the station at a more favorable and environmentally friendly location satisfying the Antarctic Protocols.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

  1. Site survey, levelling, approach roads. (2012-13).
  2. Selection of consultant architect, finalisation of conceptual design, preparation of CEE (2013-14). Tendering and identification of construction agency; procurement of machinery and equipment pre-construction activities (2014-15). Movement of machinery and construction equipment and initiation of construction (2015-16). Construction and commissioning (2016-17).

Deliverables

When completed, the station would house 25 wintering over and an equal number of summer scientists enabling them to conduct research in eco-friendly environment. The modern, green station will conserve energy and use additional alternative sources of Wind and solar means to reduce Carbon footprints and save fuel consumption.The modern sewage disposal system will overcome the problems being faced in the current unfriendly procedure, where the sewage water finds way to the drinking water source. The CHP techniques will make living and ambiance much better and in tune with other stations in Antarctica.

 

6. Southern Ocean

The Program for India’s research activities in the Southern Ocean realm primarily underlines the sensitivity of the Southern Ocean region to climatic variability and its importance in our understanding the global environment. In pursuance of this, NCPOR, on behalf of MoES took a lead role in organizing a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional pilot expedition to the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean during January-March 2004. In continuation of the studies initiated during this Pilot Expedition, another multi-disciplinary endeavor in the Southern Ocean was taken up as a part during a Special Expedition to the new Indian base in the Larsemann Hills during January-March 2006 onboard a Russian chartered research vessel “Akademik Boris Petrov”.The success of these two initial endeavours prompted the Ministry to embark on a major national initiative of planning, co-ordinating and implementing multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional scientific programmes in the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean. To date, five such expeditions have been successfully undertaken (including the two initial endavors). Several national research institutions such as IMD, IITM, SPL, IISc, NIO-Kochi, FSI, CMFRI, SAC, PRL, NHO, KBCAOS, CMLRE, NIOT, and NCPOR and universities such as JNU, Annamalai, Goa, CUSAT, Karnataka and Gujarat have been active participants in these expeditions

Objectives

  1. To understand the dynamics of the Southern Ocean, such as, current structure and variability; intra-annual and inter-annual variability of Antarctic Circum Polar Current and surface currents; geostrophic currents; thermohaline circulation; water masses structure; mixing process; mesoscale perturbations.
  2. Biogeochemical fluxes of carbon, nitrogen, silica and iron in the Southern Ocean and their influence on the trophic structure.
  3. To document factors and processes which regulate the variability of primary productivity as well as fate of the biogenic material.
  4. Past climate and oceanic variability.
  5. Reassessment of ‘Iron limitation hypothesis’ and a comprehensive study on the role of iron in mediating biogenic processes with respect to CO2 fluxes.
  6. Southern Ocean carbon process.
  7. To carry out detailed isotopic, chemical and micropaleontological studies on the sediments from the Southern Ocean to decipher their response and feedback to past climate changes.
  8. Hydrodynamics of the coastal Antarctica.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

All the aspects related the planning, co-ordnation and implementation of the scientific and logistics aspects related to the multi-institutional Indian Scientific endeavors in the Southern Ocean realm shall be undertaken by NCPOR on behalf of the Ministry. The proposals will be invited from universities, Survey Organizations and Other institutes involved in the Oceanographic studies, examined by a Group of Expert, and then shortlisted as per the theme of the Expedition.

Deliverables

The multi-institutional national mission of scientific studies in the Southern Ocean realm would be providing an exhaustive database which could throw light on several as yet-unanswered questions related to the dynamics of the Southern Ocean, the biogeochemical fluxes of carbon, nitrogen, silica and iron and their influence on the trophic structure, the role of the Southern Ocean in modulating the global climate etc


Polar Science and Cryosphere

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.

PACER encompasses the following six components.

  1. Construction of polar research vessel
  2. Construction of the third research base in Antarctica
  3. Indian scientific endeavours in the Arctic
  4. Polar expeditions-Antarctica
  5. Replacement of Maitri station
  6. Southern Ocean

 

1. Construction of Polar Research Vessel

Ever since the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica way back in 1981, India has been managing the transportation of the expedition personnel and cargo to and back from Antarctica through chartered vessels. However, the very fact that these vessels were basically ice-class cargo vessels rendered them unsuitable for oceanographic research work. Taking into consideration the growing need of the scientific community to initiate studies in the frontier realms of ocean sciences,the uncertainty in the charter-hire of polar vessels and the ever-escalating chartering costs, andthe expansion of our scientific activities into the Arctic and Southern Ocean, MoES during the early part of the XI Plan period, decided to explore the feasibility of constructing and commissioning a polar research vessel which can cater to both the scientific and logistics aspects of the polar and Southern Ocean programmes. As the nodal agency responsible for the implementation of the country’s polar and Southern Ocean programmes, NCPOR was entrusted with the task of planning, co-ordinating and accomplishing the various facets of the work programme. Pursuant to the approvals of the EFC and related competent bodies/authorities, NCPOR initiated the preliminary work towards the implementation of the programme during 2008-09.

Objectives

  1. To construct and commission a research-cum-supply vessel for the Antarctic, Arctic, Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean operations.
  2. To equip the vessel with the state-of-the art scientific equipment/instrumentation to undertake front ranking oceanographic research.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

  1. Finalization of the design specifications including the onboard laboratory instrumentation and infrastructure.
  2. Floating of a Global Tender for the construction and identification of the Shipyard.
  3. Finalization of the Agreement with the identified yard.
  4. Initiation of construction of the polar research vessel (2012-13).
  5. Construction and sea trials (2013-15).
  6. Commissioning of the vessel (2015-16).

Deliverables

When delivered the polar research vessel will cater to the scientific and logistics needs of the Indian scientific endeavours in Antarctica, Southern Ocean and Arctic seas.So far, the expeditions have been launched using cargo vessels with the result that no significant marine scientific experiments could be launched.Owning our own ice breaker vessel will reduce India’s dependence on foreign vessels and give us freedom of planning diverse scientific programs.The ship will also cater to two different Indian stations- Maitri and Bharati- so far as replenishing the lifesaving commodities such as fuel, food and medicines as also other equipment such as snow vehicles, scientific equipment are concerned, thereby saving huge foreign exchange.

 

 

2. Construction of the third research base in Antarctica

The action for the pre-construction work at the Larsemann Hills environs has been completed. All the heavy earthmoving/construction material and cargo were transported from ship to shore either by the two helicopters or by vehicles over the fast ice. About 250 m long road from landing site up to the helipad was also carved out. The construction activities related to Phase II are scheduled to commence during the austral summer of 2011.

Objectives

  1. Commissioning of the research base.
  2. Establishing the laboratories.
  3. Establishment of the requisite communication facilities.
  4. Initiation of scientific studies from the new Indian base.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation plan

The construction and commissioning of the new station is being undertaken in two phases. The first phase of construction which was undertaken through a Service provider identified on the basis of a Global Tender was initiated and completed during the austral summer of 2010. Concurrently, activities for the Phase-II were initiated at NCPOR. Adopting the same procedure as that for Phase-I, a Service Provider was identified through Global Bidding. The construction activities related to Phase II are scheduled to begin during the austral summer of 2011.The station will be occupied in 2012 but facilities such as R.O. System for water supply, construction of jetty, and equipping the station with modern scientific equipment will be taken up subsequently in a phased manner. Construction of Communication and data receiving antennas, establishing a modern medical set up, wind and solar power generating systems and a Met lab will be taken up.

Deliverables

A state-of-the-art year-round research base, Bharati, at Larsemann Hills with living space and laboratory facilities, when dedicated to the nation, will enhance India’s presence and visibility of its Polar Program. The data collected from this sub-aroral region will supplement the Maitri data and together will add scientific endeavors to establish tele-connection of Polar climate to Monsoon. Since the site of the Bharati station in Antarctica, represents an area linked to the Eastern Ghat Mobile Belt of India during Pre- rift period, station will offer excellent opportunity to conduct comparative crustal evolution studies. The station being next to the open sea, will also facilitate studies in marine scientific fields, a field that could not be covered from Maitri. The Station being very close to international hubs of Australia, China, Russia and Romania will enable scientific cooperation with these SCAR nations.

 

3. Indian Scientific endeavours in the Arctic

India began its scientific endeavours in the Arctic in 2007 when a team of five scientists visited the International Arctic Research Facilities at Ny-Ålesund to initiate studies in the fields of Arctic microbiology, atmospheric sciences and geology. Following the success of this initial step, the Ministry embarked on a long-term program of regular scientific activities in the Arctic in the frontier realms of polar biology, glaciology and earth and atmospheric sciences. To date, 57 scientists from 18 national institutions, organisations and universities have participated in the Indian Arctic Programme, which is being co-ordinated and implemented by NCPOR on behalf of the Ministry. The focus areas of research by the Indian scientists at Ny-Ålesund are confined to some of the frontier areas of polar sciences of special relevance to the Arctic realm, such as glaciology, atmospheric science, biology and climate change. A comprehensive long-term Science Plan of research activities by Indian scientists in the Arctic realm has also been developed. To facilitate the Indian activities, a station building has been taken on lease at Ny-Ålesund to serve as India’s Research Base in the Arctic. India is a member of the Ny-AlesundScience Managers Committee (NySMAC)- the apex body responsible for coordinating and advising all the Member Nations on scientific projects at Ny-Alesund. India has also an observer status in the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) since 2011.

Objectives

  1. Continuation of the scientific programs in the Arctic in the fields of atmospheric sciences, climate change, geoscience and glaciology, and polar biology.
  2. Ensuring a prominent and sustained presence of India in the Arctic through initiation of scientific research in some of the frontier realms of polar science.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plans

All the aspects related the planning, co-ordination and implementation of the scientific and logistics aspects related to the Indian Scientific endeavours in the Arctic shall be pursued on behalf of the Ministry.The science component of the work programme would however, be a multi-institutional national endeavour with the involvement of scientists from all major national institutions, laboratories and Universities with a sustained interest in the polar realm.The expeditions would be launched in phased manner from March to September depending upon the requirement of the science objectives.

Deliverables

The scientific studies proposed and being carried out by Indian scientists in the Arctic will be contributing significantly to the global community’s ongoing efforts in understanding the climate change phenomena. In addition, the studies would be providing a wealth of data in such diverse but inter-related fields as earth sciences, biology, atmospheric sciences and climatology.

The success of the scientific program, apart from contributing to the international efforts to understand global issues will also help India in getting entry in the IASC.

 

4. Polar Expeditions—Antarctica

The importance of Antarctica as a pedestal for front-ranking scientific research was recognized by Indian way back in 1981 itself, when the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica was launched. Since then, India has made great strides in initiating scientific projects of both national and global relevance as well as in catering to the entire gamut of complex logistics operations called for, in the Annual Expeditions to Antarctica. Experiments mounted by Indian scientists in such disciplines as atmospheric sciences & meteorology, earth sciences and glaciology, biology and environmental sciences have also contributed directly to global experiments mounted under the aegis of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). The Indian research station Maitri has also served as a platform for collaborative studies with some Antarctic Treaty nations i.e. Germany, Italy, France, Poland and the United States of America. It has also facilitated scientists from Malaysia, Columbia, Peru and Mauritius to work in Antarctica.

Following are some of the noteworthy accomplishments of Indian scientific community in Antarctica.

  1. Identification of a number of new species of bacteria from the cold habitats of Antarctica- 30 out of 240 new species discovered so far have been by Indian scientists.
  2. Identification of new genes from the bacteria as genes required for the survival of bacteria at low temperature.
  3. Identification of a number of lipases and proteases active at low temperatures and useful for the biotechnology industry.
  4. Preparation of comprehensive geological and geomorphological maps of the Schirmacher Oasis.
  5. Studies of cold adaptability of human beings in the harsh environment of Antarctica which have provided significant baseline data for use in similar studies on India’s armed forces serving in the Himalaya.

Objectives

  1. Continuation of the scientific programs in the Antarctica in the fields of atmospheric sciences, climate change, geoscience and glaciology, human physiology and medicine, polar biology and environmental science.
  2. Initiating novel programmes in the frontier realms of polar science, viz. Assessment of microbial diversity in Arctic and Antarctic: Past and Present; Environmental monitoring and health of the Indian Antarctic Stations in pursuit of Antarctica-Treaty-System and its governance; Long-term monitoring and modeling of precipitation over Antarctica; and Satellite-based monitoring Antarctic sea ice and land ice topography, with special focus on glaciers.
  3. Ensuring a prominent and sustained presence of India in the Antarctica through initiation of scientific research in some of the frontier realms of polar science including paleo-climate reconstruction from the Antarctic coastal water.
  4. Continue to play a lead role amongst the nations with a sustained presence in Antarctica.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

As in the previous years, all the aspects related the planning, co-ordnation and implementation of the scientific and logistics aspects related to the Indian Scientific Expeditions to Antarctica shall be undertaken by NCPOR on behalf of the Ministry. The science component of the work programme would a multi-institutional national endeavor with the involvement of scientists from all major national institutions, laboratories and Universities with a sustained interest in the polar realm.

Deliverables

The scientific studies proposed and being carried out by Indian scientists in Antarctica will be contributing significantly to the global community’s ongoing efforts in understanding the climate change phenomena. In addition, the studies would be providing a wealth of data in such diverse but inter-related fields as earth sciences, biology, atmospheric sciences and climatology.

 

5. Replacement of Maitri station

It is proposed to rebuild the Maitri station during the XII Plan period, incorporating the modern energy conservation systems i.e. CHP units and integrated power generation through wind energy and solar power, a waste conservation and waste disposal strategy through appropriate redesign of wastewater treatment and disposal system capable to recycle treated water to meet Environmental Protocol, integration of summer camp modules with necessary facilities to act as separate residential units and updating the laboratories facilities along with keeping provision for additional rooms and facilities for unforeseen activities in immediate future.

Objectives

  1. Maitri station, built in 1988-89 was assigned a life of about ten years considering the harsh Antarctic weather. The station has outlived its projected life more than two times. A two member expert team drawn from SERC-CSIR and EIL deputed to study the health of the station had pointed out the weakness of the structural columns on which the station stood.
  2. Since Maitri is gateway to the interior mountains of Antarcticaand has important observatories that need to continue to collect vital met, geophysical and geological data, its continuation is essential for achieving the scientific goals of India in Antarctica.
  3. It is therefore proposed to rebuild the station at a more favorable and environmentally friendly location satisfying the Antarctic Protocols.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

  1. Site survey, levelling, approach roads. (2012-13).
  2. Selection of consultant architect, finalisation of conceptual design, preparation of CEE (2013-14). Tendering and identification of construction agency; procurement of machinery and equipment pre-construction activities (2014-15). Movement of machinery and construction equipment and initiation of construction (2015-16). Construction and commissioning (2016-17).

Deliverables

When completed, the station would house 25 wintering over and an equal number of summer scientists enabling them to conduct research in eco-friendly environment. The modern, green station will conserve energy and use additional alternative sources of Wind and solar means to reduce Carbon footprints and save fuel consumption.The modern sewage disposal system will overcome the problems being faced in the current unfriendly procedure, where the sewage water finds way to the drinking water source. The CHP techniques will make living and ambiance much better and in tune with other stations in Antarctica.

 

 

6. Southern Ocean

The Program for India’s research activities in the Southern Ocean realm primarily underlines the sensitivity of the Southern Ocean region to climatic variability and its importance in our understanding the global environment. In pursuance of this, NCPOR, on behalf of MoES took a lead role in organizing a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional pilot expedition to the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean during January-March 2004. In continuation of the studies initiated during this Pilot Expedition, another multi-disciplinary endeavor in the Southern Ocean was taken up as a part during a Special Expedition to the new Indian base in the Larsemann Hills during January-March 2006 onboard a Russian chartered research vessel “Akademik Boris Petrov”.The success of these two initial endeavours prompted the Ministry to embark on a major national initiative of planning, co-ordinating and implementing multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional scientific programmes in the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean. To date, five such expeditions have been successfully undertaken (including the two initial endavors). Several national research institutions such as IMD, IITM, SPL, IISc, NIO-Kochi, FSI, CMFRI, SAC, PRL, NHO, KBCAOS, CMLRE, NIOT, and NCPOR and universities such as JNU, Annamalai, Goa, CUSAT, Karnataka and Gujarat have been active participants in these expeditions

Objectives

  1. To understand the dynamics of the Southern Ocean, such as, current structure and variability; intra-annual and inter-annual variability of Antarctic Circum Polar Current and surface currents; geostrophic currents; thermohaline circulation; water masses structure; mixing process; mesoscale perturbations.
  2. Biogeochemical fluxes of carbon, nitrogen, silica and iron in the Southern Ocean and their influence on the trophic structure.
  3. To document factors and processes which regulate the variability of primary productivity as well as fate of the biogenic material.
  4. Past climate and oceanic variability.
  5. Reassessment of ‘Iron limitation hypothesis’ and a comprehensive study on the role of iron in mediating biogenic processes with respect to CO2 fluxes.
  6. Southern Ocean carbon process.
  7. To carry out detailed isotopic, chemical and micropaleontological studies on the sediments from the Southern Ocean to decipher their response and feedback to past climate changes.
  8. Hydrodynamics of the coastal Antarctica.

Participating Institutions: National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa

Implementation Plan

All the aspects related the planning, co-ordnation and implementation of the scientific and logistics aspects related to the multi-institutional Indian Scientific endeavors in the Southern Ocean realm shall be undertaken by NCPOR on behalf of the Ministry. The proposals will be invited from universities, Survey Organizations and Other institutes involved in the Oceanographic studies, examined by a Group of Expert, and then shortlisted as per the theme of the Expedition.

Deliverables

The multi-institutional national mission of scientific studies in the Southern Ocean realm would be providing an exhaustive database which could throw light on several as yet-unanswered questions related to the dynamics of the Southern Ocean, the biogeochemical fluxes of carbon, nitrogen, silica and iron and their influence on the trophic structure, the role of the Southern Ocean in modulating the global climate etc