On May 25, 1998, India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences established the National Center for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) as an autonomous institution for research and development. It is located in Vasco do Gama, Goa, and was formerly known as the National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR). The mission of NCPOR is to act as a facilitator for the scientific research projects being carried out by various national institutions and organisations in the Arctic. Also it is to manage and carry out all scientific and logistical activities associated with the yearly Indian Arctic expeditions, and to oversee and operate the Indian Arctic base Himadri. It serves as the central organisation for all logistics-related planning, promotion, coordination, and implementation of polar and southern ocean scientific research across the nation. The Center maintains a Research Advisory Committee (RAC) to help guide and concentrate the research activities.
Goals of the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR):
- Playing a leading role in specialized fields of scientific study in the fields of arctic and ocean sciences.
- Playing a leading part in geoscientific surveys of the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and its expanded continental shelf beyond 200 meters, deep-sea drilling in the Arabian Sea basin through the IODP, and research for ocean non-living resources such methane hydrates and multi-metal sulfides on mid-ocean ridges.
- Facilitation of the scientific research projects being carried out by numerous national institutions and organisations in the Arctic, the Indian Ocean, and the Southern Ocean.
- A management role is played in the execution of all logistical and scientific tasks associated with the yearly Indian expeditions to the Antarctic, Arctic, and Southern Ocean.
- Administration and maintenance of the Indian bases in the Arctic, Maitri, and Bharati for polar research
- Administration of the Ministry’s research vessel ORV Sagar Kanya and other research vessels that have been rented from the Ministry
- It keeps ice core samples from the Himalayas and Antarctica.
Achievements of the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research:
- Establishing a dedicated SATCOM facility at Maitri and NCAOR in 2008 with assistance from the Space Application Center in Ahmadabad and Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. required project planning, oversight, and operational support. For phone, video, and data at Maitri station, the facility offers uninterruptible broadband connectivity via satellite link with a bandwidth of 4 MHz.
- The National Center for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) discovered that global warming was to blame for the biggest drop in Arctic sea ice in the previous 41 years, which resulted in a localized rise in evaporation, air humidity, cloud cover, and rainfall.
- Arctic sea ice is a highly reactive component of the climate system and a sensitive indication of climate change.
- According to the NCPOR, this decrease in Arctic Sea ice occurred in July 2019. The sea ice has been vanishing over the past 40 years (1979-2018), with a rate of -4.7% each decade. However, in July 2019, this rate was discovered to be -13%.
- The Arctic Sea would be completely devoid of ice by 2050 if this trend keeps up.
- NCPOR made an effort to comprehend the rate of surface warming and changes in global atmospheric circulation using satellite data gathered from 1979 to 2019. The study also highlighted how local weather and climate across the Arctic Ocean and its marginal waters were impacted by the shrinking Arctic Sea ice area and lengthening summer and autumn seasons.
- In order to provide seamless phone connectivity between Antarctic stations and NCAOR, IP-based EPABX systems are implemented at Maitri, Bharati, and NCPOR in the 2015–16 academic year.
- Bharati-TIMES, a web-based tool, was created and is currently being utilized for the administration and clarification of technical difficulties relating to the station’s life support systems. Tools for managing itineraries for the Antarctic expeditions were developed internally.
- It helps in supporting scientific projects operationally. Scientific results are only as good as the logistics assistance, and during the past ten year. There have been no logistical setbacks, which may be a testament to our in-depth understanding of how to make things happen in Antarctica.
- A high altitude research station called “Himansh” has been been created by the NCPOR in the Himalaya at 4,000 meters above sea level in Sutri Dhaka.
Impact of National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research on India:
- NCPOR has been tracking the six himalayan glaciers, which have been melting between 13 and 33 millimeters year. The mass, energy, and hydrological balance of six glaciers, namely Sutri Dhaka, Batal, Bara Shigri, Samudra Tapu, Gepang Gath, and Kunzum, are being tracked. While debris below two centimeters thick slowed melting by up to 10% of the overall melting, material above two centimeters thick significantly lowered melting rates by up to 70%.
- Due to the intense weather events the nation experiences and the significant reliance on rainfall for water and food security, the relationship between the changing Arctic and the monsoons in the subcontinent is becoming more and more significant.
- A probable link between Arctic sea ice and late-season Indian Summer Monsoon Rainfall Extremes was discovered by a team of Indian and Norwegian scientists. Extreme rainfall events during the second part of the monsoon season in September and October may result from the Barents-Kara sea region’s decreasing sea ice.
- Increased moisture and intense rainfall events are caused by modifications in air circulation brought on by melting sea ice and Arabian Sea temperatures.
- In order to track the effects of changes in the Arctic Ocean on tropical processes like the monsoons, India installed IndARC, India’s first moored-underwater observatory, in the Kongsfjorden fjord, Svalbard, in 2014.
- The sea level along the Indian coast is rising faster than the global average pace, according the World Meteorological Organization’s report, “State of Global Climate in 2021.”
- The melting of sea ice in the northern areas, particularly the Arctic, is one of the main causes of this increase.
- The Arctic amplification strengthens the claim that “what happens in the Arctic does not remain in the Arctic” and that tropical processes in the deep south can be significantly impacted by Arctic events.
Importance of the Arctic Region:
- India, one of the thirteen countries with Observer status in the Arctic Council, has a strong stake in the region.
- The area has abundant mineral and oil resources.
- The numerous shipping routes that pass through the Arctic region add to its importance.
- The negative consequences of climate change are altering not only global transportation routes but also the availability of mineral and hydrocarbon resources.
Programs under National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research:
Himadri Research Station:
India’s first research facility in the Arctic is located at Himadri. It’s in the Norwegian territory of Svalbard’s Spitsbergen. It is located at the Ny-Alesund International Arctic Research Base. The distance to the North Pole is 1200 kilometers. The station’s duties include monitoring fjord dynamics and conducting atmospheric research. Himadri carries out studies on glaciers, sedimentology, microbial communities, food web dynamics, aerosol radiation, space weather, and glaciers.
The Second Research Station “Maitri” was constructed on the Schirmacher oasis in 1988 in a stony, ice-free location. The structure was constructed using steel stilts, and it has endured over time. South of Schirmacher, Maitri serves as an entrance to one of the biggest mountain systems in central Droning Maud area. It is an inland station at a height of roughly 50 meters above sea level, 100 kilometers from the coast. It can accommodate 25 people in the main structure during the summer and winter, and roughly 40 people in the summer facility made up of dwelling modules made of shipping containers. The station is made up of a main building, a summer camp, a fuel farm, a gasoline station, a lake water pump house, and several smaller containerized modules. The main building features a controlled power supply, automatic heating with hot and cold running water, incineration restrooms, cold storage, a PA system, living, dining, and lounge areas, as well as laboratory space in shipping containers. The audio, video, and data link with the Indian subcontinent is provided through specialized satellite channels.
The brand-new Indian research facility “Bharati” is situated in Antarctica around 35 m above sea level, about 3000 km east of Maitri. The extremely small-footprint station was inaugurated on March 18, 2012, to support the Indian Antarctic program’s year-round scientific research activities. In the main building, the station can accommodate 47 people on a twin-sharing arrangement both in the summer and the winter. The main structure includes a controlled power supply, automatic heating and air conditioning with hot and cold running water, flush toilets, a sauna, a cold storage facility, a public address system, and visually pleasing living, dining, lounge, and laboratory spaces. The audio, video, and data link with the Indian subcontinent is provided through specialized satellite channels.
India has strategic, commercial, environmental, and scientific interests in the Arctic. India has maintained a constant and extensive relationship with the Arctic over the years for this reason. The goal of NCPOR is to get the nation ready for a time when the greatest problems facing humanity, like climate change, may be successfully solved. It may be possible to improve the country’s strategy by creating a specialized expert committee to develop, monitor, steer, implement, and assess NCPOR policy.