The Sixteenth Indian Expedition to Antarctica was launched from
Goa on 12th December, 1996 with a team of 62 persons of which
39 were scientific personnel. In this expedition a special
environment task force, to oversee the entire scientific and
logistic tasks of the expedition in terms of the Environmental
protocol to the Antarctic Treaty,was also included.The expedition
returned to India on 5th April 1997, leaving behind a 25 member
wintering team. The following scientific and logistic tasks were
performed by the Sixteenth Antarctic Team.
A state-of-the-art experiment using a Laser Heterodyne System
(LHS) to yield the vertical profile of ozone and other minor trace
gases in the atmosphere upto a height of 60 km was commissioned.
A study to understand the dynamics of mobile current systems in
the Antarctic atmosphere was undertaken. Three fluxgate magneto-
meters and riometers were operated at the three vertices of a
triangle with the objective to obtain velocity of mobile auroral
current systems that leave back geomagnetic pulsations.
A study with the aim to build up a climatological data set of
Antarctica on a decadenal scale, was taken up. This information
will help in generating meteorological models to understand the
patterns of Antarctic circulation in the context of global and
Indian weather systems.
Electrical Conductivity and Aerosol Particle Distribution studies
were initiated. In this experiment, measurements of the atmospheric
electric field along with size distribution of fine aerosol
particles over Antarctica were made.
Geological mapping were carried out to cover an un-mapped area
of 1000 sq. km. in the Kurze and Holtedahl ranges of Orvin II
Ongoing Project activities on Geological Evolution of Schirmacher
Hills, East Antarctica to understand the structural, petrologic,
geochemical and geochronological signatures in the rocks of the
Schirmacher Oasis, were continued. These will help elucidate the
history of crustal evolution of the area.
Experiments on Snow Drift and Albedo Studies in Antarctica were
undertaken to understand the net energy exchange budget between
the atmosphere and the variety of terrain's encountered in
A new project on Hydro-Geochemistry, Thermal Structure and Sedi-
mentology of freshwater lakes was undertaken for understanding the
Studies on seismic activities as recorded in Antarctica were
undertaken for the first time from the Indian station. The
preliminary data collected will be used for establishing a permanent
digital broad band seismograph as a part of the seismic observatory.
A detailed topographical survey for preparing the maps of : (a)
the new site location for an alternative summer camp;(b) delineating
and demarcating the convoy route using GPS system;and(c) a seismatic
survey of the ice shelf around the Indian Bay was carried out, in
order to identify a suitable berthing place for the expedition vessel.
Hydrographic survey of the approach waters to the Indian Bay in
Antarctica, was also taken up.
Experiments on Human Physiology to correlate circadian rhythmicity
and metabolic status of personnel exposed to severe Antarctic
conditions in order to understand the adaptive processes were
A new study to evaluate the nutritional aspects and their effect
on physiological stress and resultant metabolic requirements to
which a subject is exposed to cold conditions, was also initiated.
Under the ongoing programme of devising a monitoring system for
population dynamics for mammals (seals) and avian taxa, the eco-
system health and the inter-species relationship, were developed
which will be applied on a long term basis to understand the vital
aspects of the fauna assemblage on a time series basis.
Experiments on development of a package of practices for protected
polar vegetable production in Antarctica within the greenhouse at
Maitri, were continued.
As a part of studies on bio-diversity of Antarctica, for the first
time, a taxonomic survey of Bryophytes including both mosses and
liverworts in the Schirmacher Oasis,was initiated. These plants play
an important role in the nutrient status and primary productivity.
Engineering & Communication
A study on condition monitoring of the structural components of the
Indian station under low temperature conditions, was undertaken. A
novel aspect of these studies included an on-line monitoring facility
between Antarctica and R&DE, Pune through Internet facilities.
Maintenance and upgradation of the communication linkages between
Maitri and India, was accomplished. A near real time picture
transmission facility between India and Antarctica was successfully
With the available data on energy needs of the station a simulation
study was undertaken for designing a wind turbine system.
Testing and installation of the state-of-the-art linear thermal
fire detecting system at Maitri was completed.
Some of the major time bound logistic tasks undertaken during this
expedition are as follows:
The replacement of MEG mixture as an antifreeze in the main water
supply line with electrical trace oil heating system.
A special Environment Task Force under the overall co-ordination
of the environment officer-cum-observer carried out an exhaustive
exercise to restore Maitri and its environs and back load all
unserviceable items as a part of a clean-up operations.