2. ANTARCTIC RESEARCH PROGRAMME
Antarctica provides an excellent opportunity for the conduct of scientific research for the benefit of all mankind. It is a pristine laboratory, of world-wide significance, which has enabled researchers to detect and monitor, global environmental phenomena such as the depletion of atmospheric ozone, global warming and sea level changes. Antarctic meteorological research has provided data essential to forecasting in the Southern Hemisphere. Glaciological research provides important information about the heat exchange budget and Antarctica's influence on weather and climate. Geological and Geophysical research in Antarctica provides new insights into global geological history and the formation of continents. The earth's geomagnetic field makes Antarctica particularly well suited to the study of solar-terrestrial interactions and cosmic rays which travel from outside our galaxy. The environment of Antarctica provides unique opportunities to study the specialised adaptations of organisms with their environment, and biological research is providing data essential for decision-making about marine living resources. Human biology and medicine provides information on the physiological adaptation of man to extreme climates and isolation.
The Antarctic Treaty parties are fully committed to scientific research in Antarctica. Parties have long recognised the fundamental role that Antarctica plays in understanding global environmental processes and the unique opportunity it provides for research.
The initiation, promotion and coordination of the Indian Antarctic research, which commenced with the launching of the first expedition during 1981 continues over a ver)T wide range of scientific activities. The permanent station at Maitri and supply base at Dakshin Gangotri provide the requisite infrastructure for carrying out scientific research in Antarctica. Regular annual expeditions since 1981 have provided the Indian scientific community and institutions unique opportunities for carrying out research in different disciplines. Government Departments, National Institutes and Laboratories have been associated in the scientific endeavour. The three Services have contributed for the logistic support and indigenisation of certain equipment and material.
A summary of the work done during the eleventh expedition and the objectives set for the twelfth expedition are given below:
2.1 Eleventh Expedition
The eleventh Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica sailed off from Goa on 27 November '91 under the leadership of Dr. S.Mukerji, a Scientist of the Geological Survey of India. The team comprised of 98 members including a winter party of 26 members. The team also included a scientist from Colombia in the summer component. The expedition reached Antarctica on 23 December '91 and returned to Goa on 24 March '92, leaving behind the winter team to man the Indian Station, Maitri.
The Eleventh Expedition accomplished the following tasks:
Routine maintenance repairs of Maitri station was carried out by the summer team. The water supply system, the pump house and the duct pipeline -were provided with anchored supports.
Scientific work carried out by the Ninth winter team
Geology: Geological survey was carried in the nunataks of the Schirmacher ranges and an interesting find has been the hitherto unreported occurrences of melasyenite/lamprophyres bodies in the region. Several rock samples have been collected for laboratory analysis.
Atmospheric Sciences: The Planetary Boundary Layer experiments were continued during the winter using acoustic sounder and microbarograph recordings. Air samples have been collected to study the atmospheric pollution.
Meteorology: A number of ozonesondes, radiosondes, and low level slow rising radiosonde ascents were taken to study the ozone phenomenon and long wave radiation balance in the atmosphere. Regular synoptic observations for surface weather pattern were taken and transmitted over the Global Telecommunication Network. Sunphotometer observations and atmospheric turbidity measurements were continued.
Geomagnetism: Geomagnetic field changes in three orthogonal components were continuously monitored. Attempts were made to predict magnetic storms with some degree of accuracy. This also helped in physiological studies. The team closely monitored the auroral activities.
Environmental Physiology: Studies on human adaptation to extreme cold conditions and isolation were continued. Regular psychological examinations were carried out. Studies included the effect of bright light on blood pressure during solar nights and the effect of magnetic storm on the human bio- chemistry.
2.2 Twelfth Expedition
The Twelfth Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica sailed off from Goa on 5 December '92. The team consists of 56 members including a winter component of 25 members. Dr. V.K. Dhargalkar, a Scientist of the National Institute of Oceanography was designated as the leader of the expedition for both summer and winter teams. The expedition reached Antarctica on 28 December '92. The objectives of the 12th Antarctic expedition are as follows :
i) Setting up of a new genset accommodation, and installation of four new 62.5 kva generator sets, essential electrical connections, testing and commissioning of the entire system.
ii) The present winter team has been advised to assemble all waste materials and clean up the area around Maitri station. The summer tasks would include additional clean up operations, if any; and bringing back of all waste materials which cannot be incinerated in Antarctica.
iii) Routine maintenance, repairs and improvement of essential support systems at Maitri would be carried out by the summer team and follow-up action will be undertaken by the winter team.
The scientific programmes for the twelfth expedition include:
- Continuation of SODAR experiments and, if possible, upgradation to the doppler system.
- Work on the installation of the laser heterodyne system in Antarctica for the study of ozone layer and minor constituents of atmosphere.
-Continuation of the following on-going programmes at Maitri for preparing climatology of the station and provision of weather services for the expedition:
i) Continuous recording of various surface meteorological parameters including synoptic hourly observations. Realtime transmission of main synop messages four times a day over Global Telecommunication Network.
ii) Recording of surface ozone at Maitri. In addition about fifty ozonesonde ascents for vertical distribution of ozone will be taken for investigation of ozone-hole over Antarctica.
iii) Radiation Budget Studies- This will be supplemented by Radiometer- sonde ascents during the expedition as in the past.
iv) Transmission of surface observations from Data Collection Platform, if contact through INSA T -2A is available.
v) Turbidity Measurements for Aerosol study.
vi) Reception of cloud imageries from Polar orbiting Weather Satellites.
vii) Facsimile reception of weather charts.
viii) Arrangements for field meteorological observations for helicopter operations and other activities during summer .
ix) Slow rising low level radiosonde ascents (one ascent per month) for supplementing the Boundary Layer Experiment programme of the National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi.
x) Pilot balloon ascents for upper winds- 12 ascents as pilot study by optical theodolite.
xi) Recording of surface and upper air observations during onward and return of the expedition and transmission of data over Global Telecommunication Network.
Biology and Oceanography:
Mooring of current metres at two or three places in the Polynya region during austral summer to know the advection processes and measurement of surface meteorological parameters to estimate the heat budget of the shore Polynya.
- Development of water level recorders at few places along the Dronning Maud Land coast to find out the sea level variations in that region for comparison with the data collected earlier from other places along the Antarctic coast.
- Collection of hydrographic data especially, temperature and salinity, and surface meteorological observations enroute to Antarctica and back mainly between 30 degrees S and 7Q degrees south latitudes to study the thermohaline structure.
- Studies would be carried out in as many hydrographic stations as possible during return voyage from Antarctica to Goa.
- Study of the primitive forms of life in Antarctica and nitrogen fixing blue green algae will be continued. If possible, study of nematodes will also be initiated.
- Continuation of Geological work in the Schirmacher ranges and the nunataks.
- Study of the geo-magnetic parameters at Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri area.
- Extension of the existing geodetic control for the use of other scientific activities and map making.
- Extension of gravimetric and magnetic observations for analysis of earth resources.
2.3Antarctic Study Centre
The Centre has started functioning in a rented accommodation at Vasco. Two officers have already been posted at the Centre and part of the work relating to launching of the 12th Antarctic expedition was carried out by the Antarctic Study Centre. The Antarctic Study Centre would be equipped to carry out the preparatory work and launching operations from 1993.
Phase-l of the construction activity of the Centre at the site allotted by the Government of Goa has been initiated. The administrative, logistic and residential blocks would be completed during this phase.