For the first time in the history of Indian Polar Science Programme, the 19th
Indian Scientific expedition to Antarctica was launched from Cape Town, South
Africa, on 9th December 1999, keeping in view the likely scientific and economic
benefits and future international cooperation in the field of polar science between
India and other countries. This heralds another scientific feat in the realms of
polar science at the end of this millennium and demonstrates the capabilities and
interest of India to pursue a well-focused scientific campaign from a pristine
scientific platform provided by Antarctica. The 19th Expedition to Antarctica
consists of a 47 member team including 30 scientists and 17 logistic personnel,
under the leadership of Mr. Arun Chaturvedi a scientist of Geological Survey of
India, including a two member lady team – one medical Doctor from India and a
Geologist from Peru. This includes a contingent of 25 members who will winter-
over in Antarctica for 16 months duration in pursuit of science. The logistic
support for the Expedition is being provided by a contingent of Army personnel,
which is headed by Maj. Ravi Sangwan.
In addition to the ongoing programmes several new experiments have been
initiated during the course of this expedition, which includes:
Study of earth-air current systems to give an insight to the deep space
Experiments on crack propagation of the ice-shelf in order to understand the
dynamics and processes of Iceberg generation.
Installation of a number of automatic weather stations to measure energy
balance and albedo factors of the ice, as a part of global change studies.
Reconstruction of the past climatic and vegetative history through the study of
organo-debris present in the fresh water lake sediments of Antarctica.
Establishment of an environment monitoring laboratory for the first time at Maitri
in order to carry out an year round assessment of the status of air, noise, water
biological and land environment of Antarctica.
The brief scientific and logistic activities of this expedition are as follows:
A. Atmospheric Sciences
Geomagnetic studies using fluxgate magnetometers and riometers
Climatological and Meteorological data archival
B. Earth Sciences
Geological mapping and Glaciological observations
Tele-seismic propagation studies
Planetary geodetic measurements
C. Global Change
Snow drift and albedo measurements
Generation & propagation of cracks on the ice-shelf
Palyno-stratigraphic studies of the lakes
D. Biological Sciences
Biodiversity of Bryophytes of Antarctica
Bio-ecological studies of invertebrate fauna
Microbial community structure by culture independent methods
E. Environment conservation
Environment impact assessment studies through assessment of existing
status of air, noise, water, biological and land environment parameters.
Preparation of an effective environment management plan.
F. Human Biology
Ultra violet radiation and cold stress
G. Engineering & Communication
Structural engineering studies
Adaptive communication technologies
Wind energy utilization and application of fuel cells in Antarctica.
The summer team of the XIX expedition returned to India via Cape Town on 6th
March, 2000 along with the winter team members of the XVIII expedition.
India has established a National Antarctic Data Centre at the National Centre for
Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) at Goa, which will soon be linked with
Antarctic Master Directory. The NCAOR established as a national endeavor to develop
expertise and excellence in polar sciences and logistic activities would plan, co-ordinate
and execute the entire scientific and logistic activities of Indian Antarctic programme
besides encouraging cooperative/joint research projects both at national and
international level, particularly in the field of global change.