Science & Tech

India launches its first Arctic winter expedition

Winter Expedition: This week marks the start of India’s first-ever winter expedition to the Arctic.

  • Winter Expedition: This week marks the start of India’s first-ever winter expedition to the Arctic.
  • With this project, India’s Himadri becomes the fourth year-round manned research station in the Arctic.

The Arctic Region and Its Global Implications

  • The Arctic Circle is located north of latitude 66° 34′ N and encompasses the Arctic Ocean.
  • Concerns about Climate Change: Scientific studies highlight the Arctic’s impact on global sea levels and atmospheric circulations as ice melts.
  • Rising Temperatures: Over the last century, the Arctic region has undergone an average temperature rise of 4 degrees Celsius.
  • Sea Ice is receding at a rate of 13% each decade, potentially leading to an ice-free Arctic Ocean by the summer of 2040.

Arctic Expedition Difficulties

  • Harsh Environmental Conditions: The intense cold, with February temperatures in Ny-lesund, Svalbard averaging minus 14 degrees Celsius, provides substantial obstacles.
  • Limited Research Stations: So far, only three Arctic research stations have had year-round regular staff.
  • Geopolitical Constraints: Arctic exploration is complicated by the presence of several state jurisdictions and geopolitical tensions, such as the Ukraine-Russia war.

India’s Winter Expedition Strategy

  • The trip will be led by a team of four scientists supported by the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences from December 19, 2023 to January 15, 2024.
  • The mission will focus on atmospheric sciences, astronomy, astrophysics, climate studies, and other topics.
  • Himadri Station: The crew will be stationed in Himadri, India’s only research station in Ny-lesund, 1,200 km north of the North Pole.
  • Special Preparations: With the help of Norwegian agencies, Himadri has been outfitted for polar night observations.

India’s Arctic Interests Have Changed

  • Historical Treaty: In 1920, India signed the Svalbard Treaty, which granted Norwegian sovereignty over the Svalbard archipelago.
  • The first Indian expedition to the Arctic took place in 2007, resulting to the foundation of Himadri in 2008.
  • In Svalbard, India established the IndArc observatory in 2014 and the Gruvebadet Atmospheric Laboratory in 2016.
  • India’s Arctic Policy: Due to be published in May 2022, it will describe six pillars, including science, environmental preservation, and international cooperation.

Global Research Presence in the Arctic

  • First Research Station in the Arctic: Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research erected the first station in Ny-lesund in 1990.
  • International Cooperation: Eleven permanent research stations at Ny-lesund, Svalbard, have been established by ten countries, including India.
  • Year-Round Human Presence: Until now, only three Arctic stations have been manned all year.

@the end

  • Improved Research Capabilities: India’s first winter voyage to the Arctic represents a significant step forward in the country’s polar research capabilities.
  • Global Importance: This programme contributes to a better understanding of the effects of climate change and stimulates international scientific collaboration in the Arctic region.
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