India sets up its first observatory in Arctic Sea

India sets up its first observatory in Arctic Sea

India sets up its first observatory in Arctic Sea

India has installed a multi-functional observatory in the Arctic with the underlying aim to exert more authority in the resource-rich northern frontiers of the world.

The instrument was anchored in the Arctic Sea a year after India was made a permanent observer to the Arctic Council along with China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Italy. The influential council may play a crucial role in the distribution of natural resources from the icy zone in the future.

Many non-Arctic countries are interested in this region to understand how climate change can impact their own states and in the potential access to the vast hydrocarbons and other resources in the region as well as to use shorter Arctic shipping routes that would cut down shipping costs.

India’s first multi-sensor moored observatory, IndARC, was lowered in the sea halfway between Norway and the North Pole.

The observatory is presently anchored about 1,100 km away from the North Pole at a depth of 192 m and has an array of 10 state-of-the-art oceanographic sensors strategically positioned at discrete depths in the water column.

These sensors are programmed to collect real-time data on seawater temperature, salinity, current and other parameters of the fjord. A fjord is a narrow inlet having steep sides that is created by glacial erosion. “In the winter, the instrument would be under 1-2 mt of ice.

But it would continue to collect data. When the snow melts, the transmitting antenna will send the data to the Indian research station Himadri at Svalbard, Norway,” Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences told Deccan Herald. Himadri has been operational since 2007.

The scientists will take about a year to evaluate the performance of the data buoy, developed by the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Vasco and National Institute of Ocean Technology, Chennai.

If the instrument works properly, India may install a couple more as part of a global initiative to set up a network of observatories in the Arctic for collecting ocean data related to glacier melting and changes in the local current.

The international arrangement is being realised by Melbourne Forum, a group of technologically strong nations, including the US, Canada, France, UK, Japan, Brazil, South Africa and India. Two of them are permanent members of the Arctic Council while four others have observer status.

Kongsfjorden is a natural laboratory for studying the Arctic climate variability, as it receives climatic signals from the Arctic and Atlantic in the course of an annual seasonal cycle.

The NCAOR has been monitoring the Kongsfjorden since 2010 to understand the fjord’s response to climate variability at different time scales.

The data acquired would be of importance to Indian climate researchers as it would help understand the Indian monsoon system.