SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH IN ANTARCTICA

'ADELIE PENGUIN' Rookery on Antarctica ice shelf

Antarctica, a unique land mass 98% of which is covered by ice was once contiguous with India as a part of Gondwanaland.


ICEBERG - In polar regions great rivers of ice


This seventh continent , much larger than India and China put together has been source of interest for the inquisitive minds for a long time. Remote and extreme, the Antarctica is now emerging as an important key in the understanding of global and environmental concerns. Its unique features have provided scientists with special opportunities over the last 35 years to investigate the origin of the continents, the pollution of the globe, and changes in world climate. Meteorology from Antarctica have provided the factors that are essential in forecasting the weather patterns of the southern hemisphere and the circulation pattern of the world ocean system. The ice cores retrieved from the continent act as a repository of information on the paleoclimate and environmental history of the earth. It is clear that Antarctic science will increasingly contribute to our understanding of these and other blobal problems. Since 1981, Department of Ocean Development has been launching scientific research expeditions on annual basis to Antarctica to utilise its singular environment as a great natural laboratory for scientific investigations. Geological and geophysical research in Antarctica provides new insights into earths geological history and information on paleoclimatic continents. Environment of Antarctica provide an opportunity to study atmospheric science, depletion of ozone, adaptation of organisms to extreme environment etc.

By virtue of its contribution to Antarctic science and its presence in Antarctica, India has been accorded consultative status in the Antarctica Treaty System. It is a member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), Standing Committee on Antarctic Logistics (SCALOP) and a party of the Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

The scientific activities of India which started on a modest scale has evolved into a comprehensive ongoing programme that has been subject to continuous updating in accordance with the national priorities and global perspectives. To carry out its scientific programmes India established to first station at Dakshin Gangotri (lat 70deg.05' South, long 12deg.00' East) in 1983.


Aerial view of Indian Antarctic Station 'Maitri'
in the Schirmacher Oasis

The second permanent station Maitri was established at Schimacher ranges (lat 70 deg.46' south, long 11deg.50' East) in 1989. Dakshin Gangotri is now being used as supply base and transit camp. Maitri Station is manned throughout the year round scientific activities. The station is specially designed and built to withstand the vagaries of the extreme climate of Antarctica. The single storied building is well equipped with sophisticated laboratory facilities to carry out scientific research. The basic amenities are provided to make the stay for the team comfortable and result oriented. The station is equipped with essential communication links with India through satellite and High frequency band transmission (HF). Efforts are being made to connect the computer of Maitri Station to the Educational and Research Network (ERNET) of Department of Electronics; this would provide data transfer facilities through computer and would facilitate scientists to get in thouch with Besearch scientific data and information. Logistical personnel are obtained form the Defence Services.

The brief highlights of the work carried out by the Indian Scientists are as follows:

Earth Sciences Meteorology Atmospheric Sciences
Environmental Physiology and Human Psychology Biology and Oceanography Engineering and Logistics
Expedition
Antarctic Study Centre