Indian researchers exploring the Arctic
From metering the precipitation in the Arctic region to drawing up a baseline data on microbial biodiversity in Kongsfjorden sediments and carrying out a biochemical evaluation and biomarker characterisation of Arctic fjord sediments, Indian researchers are into a series of scientific investigations in the icy terrains of Arctic.
Working from Himadri, country’s Arctic research station at Spitsbergen, Norway, the scientists are looking into the various aspects of life that thrives there to gain a better understanding about the climatological factors that influence the Arctic weather and its impact on climate changes elsewhere.
The researchers of the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Goa, specializing in atmospheric sciences, will look into the variability of precipitation over Arctic and the precipitation will be measured using Micro Rain Radar. The temperature and humidity profiles of the region will be created using a microwave radiometer profiler.
They hope to “fill the gaps in the observational data on Arctic clouds, especially during the dark winter season, by recording measurements using a ceilometer to measure the vertical profiles of multiple cloud layers,” according to a research document. The long-term monitoring of Kongsfjorden system of Arctic region for climate change studies has also been the mandate of the Centre during the current assignment.
An environmental specialist from the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala, will pay attention to the long term environmental monitoring of fjord ecosystems, especially the ecosystem of Kongsfjorden and Krossfjorden. The water and sediment chemistry with respect to climate change in the fjords will be the focus area of research. Different teams will be carrying several studies. For instance, the biochemical evaluation and biomarker characterization from Arctic fjord sediments is the task assigned to the chemical oceanographer from the Kerala University for Fisheries and Ocean Studies.
The zooplankton ecology and planktonic food web dynamics in Kongsfjorden will be studied using in-situ and satellite oceanography techniques by another team. The impact of glacial runoff and associated arctic freshening on microbial community structure will also be assessed. A case study will be carried out in Kongsfjorden.
While trying to understand the macro-benthic faunal composition at selected locations in the Kongsjorden Fjord covering a length of 15 Km from the oceanic end to the glacial end of the Fjord, another scientist from the Cochin University of Science will look into the impact of glacial run-off and associated Arctic freshening of microbial community structure of Kongsfjorden.
Kongsfjorden, an icy archipelago having a length of about 40 km and width ranging from 5 to 10 km, is a glacial fjord(a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway and Iceland, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley) in the Arctic (Svalbard).
It lies in the northwest coast of Spitsbergen, the main island of Svalbard, and is a site where warmer waters of the Atlantic meet the colder waters of the Arctic.
Ever since India commenced her scientific activities in the Arctic realm, one of the major locales of study has been the Kongsfjorden system. Considering the scope of scientific research the locale afforded and the fact that an integrated study of the fjord has been has been identified as a flagship program of the Svalbard Research Program (SSF), NCAOR in consultation with the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI) began exploring the feasibility of initiating a major long-term program on the fjord during 2009-10.
The overall objective of the studies planned is to establish a long-term comprehensive physical, chemical, biological and atmospheric measurement programme aimed at understanding:
- The variability in the Arctic/Atlantic climate signal by understanding the interaction between the freshwater from the glacial run-off and Atlantic water from the west Spitsbergen current.
- The effect of interaction between the warm Atlantic water and the cold glacial-melt fresh water on the biological productivity and phytoplankton species composition and diversity within the fjord.
- The winter convection and its role in the biogeochemical cycling.
- The trigger mechanism of spring bloom and its temporal variability and biomass production.
- The production and export of organic carbon in the fjord with a view to quantify the CO2 flux.
Cabinet approves India’s Membership of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program
The Union Cabinet recently gave its approval for Indian membership of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) consortium by signing an MoU with the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for geosciences. This is a government-funded, Public Law Foundation of the State of Brandenburg, Germany.
- After signing the MoU on the membership for a period of five years with ICDP, India would enable engaging internationally renowned experts with profound expertise in different aspects of scientific drilling in order to accomplish deep drilling and associated investigations in Koyna region.
- India will get a seat on two ICDP panels – Executive Committee (EC) and Assembly of Governors (AOG). Also, ICDP will provide technical / operational support, facilitate capacity building in terms of manpower training in key scientific areas, sample and data management and support workshops for the Koyna scientific deep drilling project undertaken by Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- As a member of ICDP, scientists/engineers from India would have right to submit proposals, to participate in all ICDP co-funded workshops and drilling projects and have access to all data results from ICDP projects. This will shed new light on the genesis of seismicity and better understanding of earthquake processes.
International Continental Scientific Drilling Program:
It is a multinational program to further and fund geosciences in the field of Continental Scientific Drilling. It was founded in February 1996 in the German Embassy in Tokyo as a result of the German Continental Deep Drilling Program.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme
The Ministry of Tourism has launched the Swadesh Darshan Scheme in 2014-15 with an aim to develop theme based tourist circuits in the country on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner by synergizing efforts to focus on needs and concerns of all stakeholders to enrich tourist experience and enhance employment opportunities.
Under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, thirteen thematic circuits have been identified, for development namely:
- North-East India Circuit,
- Buddhist Circuit,
- Himalayan Circuit,
- Coastal Circuit,
- Krishna Circuit,
- Desert Circuit,
- Tribal Circuit,
- Eco Circuit,
- Wildlife Circuit,
- Rural Circuit,
- Spiritual Circuit,
- Ramayana Circuit
- Heritage Circuit.