Recently, India participated in the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM) being held in Tokyo, Japan (the first ministerial meeting being held in Asia) and shared plans for research and long-term cooperation in the Arctic Region.
Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM) is a global platform for discussing research and cooperation in the Arctic region. The USA and Germany held the first two Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM) meetings in 2016 and in 2018 respectively. The third was jointly organized by Japan and Iceland and was held in Asia. The theme for the recently held meeting was ‘Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic’.
The Arctic Science Ministerial aims at providing opportunities to various stakeholders, which include indigenous communities, academia, policymakers, and governments, to enhance their collective understanding of the Arctic Region. It also emphasizes and engages in the constant monitoring and strengthening of observations.
India’s Vision and long term plans in the Arctic region
India will continue to continue to play a positive role in deepening the shared understanding of the Arctic through research, observation, international cooperation, and capacity building.
- India shared its plans of contributing to the observing systems in the Arctic, both by remote-sensing or on-site.
- India will be deploying open ocean mooring in the Arctic Region. It will be for the long-term monitoring of the upper ocean variables and marine meteorological parameters.
- India talked about the growing evidence of a connection between the Indian Ocean and the Arctic region, which modulates the Indian Monsoon. It added that improving the understating of physical processes and measuring the impact of Arctic ice melt on India’s monsoon is significant.
- NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite Mission: Informed that the launch of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar Satellite Mission, in collaboration with the United States is also underway. The mission by India and the US aims at conducting global measurements of the consequences and cause of the land surface changes with the use of advanced radar imaging.
- Contributions to the Sustained Arctic Observational Network (SAON) would continue. It is a joint activity of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Arctic Council. The purpose is to support and strengthen the development of multinational engagement for sustained and coordinated pan-Arctic observing and data sharing systems.
India’s Engagement in the Arctic Region:
- India’s engagement with the Arctic dates back to 1920 with the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in Paris.
- India has had a permanent research station in the Arctic Region called Himadari at NyAlesund, Svalbard Area in Norway, since July 2008.
- It has also deployed a multi-sensor moored observatory known as IndARC in Kongsfjordan fjord since July 2014.
- India’s research in the Arctic Region is conducted, coordinated, and promoted by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research, Goa. It comes under the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
- Recently, India drafted a new Arctic policy that aims at expanding scientific research, sustainable tourism and exploration of mineral oil and gas in the Arctic region
Significance of Arctic Study for India:
Though none of India’s territory directly falls in the Arctic region, it is a crucial area as the Arctic influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.
Arctic warming and its ice melt are global concerns as they play a pivotal role in regulating climate, sea levels, and maintaining biodiversity.
There is growing evidence of connection between the Arctic and the Indian Ocean (which modulates the Indian monsoon). Hence, improving the understanding of physical processes and quantifying the impact of Arctic ice melt on the Indian summer monsoon is very important.
- The Arctic region comprises the Arctic Ocean and parts of countries such as Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia, USA (Alaska), Finland, Sweden and Iceland.
- These countries together form the core of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum which is headquartered in Norway