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Postulating Arctic’s Changing World

 
New Delhi, May 5 (G’nY News Service): The world community is today familiar with Arctic’s fast changing climatic regime. Headlines in leading dailies world over have directed our attention towards growing commerce in the region, its related issues of governance and policy. The impacts of such interventions constitute the domain of science. And, scientists of the snow-swept Arctic are perhaps the least harkened lot, who face all adversities to bring us the good and the bad of man’s unrelenting search for resources.  

India, for most of us, is geographically far from the Arctic. But, today the distances are shrinking, not because the Arctic’s melting status is postulated to open out sea routes, but because India is beginning to show sincere interest in Arctic science and keenly participating in ventures in the extreme north.

To mark India’s commitment to its Arctic programmes a daylong seminar discussing the Indo Norwegian co-operation benefits in the Arctic region was held in Prithvi Bhawan, New Delhi today. It concentrated chiefly on climate change and geopolitics, and efficiently highlighted the positive aspects of the scientific association of the two countries. Issues such as energy and resource, search and rescue operations, oil spill etc., were also raised during the discussions.

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The Kongsfjorden fjord, part of the Norwegian Svalbard  archipelago in the Arctic Ocean 

The Conference, co-hosted by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MOES) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy, witnessed the assemblage of a long list of eminent dignitaries including Eivind S Homme, ambassador of Norway, India’s Shailesh Nayak, secretary, MOES, Jan-Gunnar Winther, director of Norwegian Polar Institute and Lars Otto Reierstein, executive secretary, Arctic Monitoring Assessment. The secretary, MOES, during the inaugural session, highlighting the growing interest in India, said that 125 scientists from prominent institutes in the nation have been undertaking studies in the area and till date 70 peer reviewed publications (from 2008 onwards) have made India proud of its growing prowess. He also said that today there were many Indian young students who were readily opting to study Arctic science.

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S Rajan, director, NCAOR, adressing the Conference

The seminar commenced with the release of a book ‘Arctic: Commerce, Governance and Policy’, edited by Uttam Sinha and Jo Inge Bekkevold and published by Routledge (UK). The book is based on the reviewed, revised and updated versions of papers presented at the roundtable on The Geopolitics of the Arctic: Commerce, Governance and Policy hosted by the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in New Delhi in September, 2013.

The success of India’s scientific endeavours in the Arctic is reflective of the synergy between the scientists of India and Norway. Although India’s engagement in the Arctic dates back to 1920, when the Svalbard Treaty was signed, it was only in 2007 that it started its focussed scientific study on the Svalbard region, where the first effects of climate change were noted. Scientists state that changes in the Arctic could have direct impacts on the Indian monsoon.

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Lard-Otto Reiersen, executive secretary, Arctic Monitoring Assessment, discusses new areas of research

 

Indian Scientists have also been successful in embossing marks of unmatched excellence with their work in ‘HIMADRI’, the Indian Research Base at New Ålesund, a research town on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. The main objectives of the station include analysis of surface water and atmospheric research.

S Rajan, director ESSO-NCAOR, presented unique results about the temperature, salinity and other parameters of the Kongsfjorden fjord, and revealed findings over the last four years of research in the area. (Fjords are long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley and are significant indicators of climatic change.)

According to Camilla Schreiner, department director, Norwegian Research Council / Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System, HIMADRI is the sixth most active scientific station in entire Norway. It has to be noted that India was honoured as a permanent Observer of the Arctic Council with China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan in May 2013. 

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