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  • 09 April, 2021

  • 20 Min Read

Everything about: Antarctic

Everything about: the Antarctic

Antarctic mapping

  1. Read all this from Orient Longman Blackswan Atlas as Ankit Sir teaches in his Mapping classes.
  2. Antarctic = Ross Sea, Amundsen Sea, Bellingshausen Sea, Drake Passage, Weddel Sea.
  3. Drake Passage/ Antarctic Peninsula is between the Bellingshausen Sea and Weddel Sea.
  4. Winson Massif (Ellsworth Mountains) is the highest peak in Antarctica.
  5. Bharati, Maitri, and Dakshin Gangotri are in the Antarctic. Lambert glacier is here. Himadri is in the Arctic.

About Antarctic region

  • The Antarctic is a polar region around Earth's the South Pole, opposite the Arctic region around the North Pole.
  • Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude.
  • The Antarctic comprises the continent of Antarctica, the Kerguelen Plateau and other island territories located on the Antarctic Plate or south of the Antarctic Convergence.
  • The Antarctic region includes the ice shelves, waters, and all the island territories in the Southern Ocean situated south of the Antarctic Convergence, a zone approximately 32 to 48 km (20 to 30 mi) wide varying in latitude seasonally.
  • The region covers some 20 per cent of the Southern Hemisphere, of which 5.5 per cent (14 million km2) is the surface area of the Antarctica continent itself. All of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude are administered under the Antarctic Treaty System.
  • Biogeographically, the Antarctic realm is one of eight biogeographic realms on Earth's surface.

India and Antarctic

Antarctic Treaty, 1959

  • The Antarctic Treaty was signed between 12 countries in Washington on 1st December 1959 for making the Antarctic Continent a demilitarized zone to be preserved for scientific research only. It entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded by many other nations.
  • The twelve original signatories are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the UK and the US.
  • India officially acceded to the Antarctic Treaty System on 1st August 1983. India became the 15th Consultative member. Currently it has 54 parties.
  • Headquarters: Buenos Aires, Argentina.
  • Provisions of the treaty
    1. Promoting the freedom of scientific research.
    2. Countries can use the continent only for peaceful purposes.
    3. Prohibition of military activities, nuclear tests and the disposal of radioactive waste.
    4. Neutralising territorial sovereignty, this means a limit was placed on making any new claim or enlargement of an existing claim.
    5. It put a freeze on any disputes between claimants over their territories on the continent.

  • These agreements are legally binding and purpose-built for the unique geographical, environmental and political characteristics of the Antarctic and form a robust international governance framework for the region.
  • The Antarctic treaty remains the only example of a single treaty that governs a whole continent.
  • It is also the foundation of a rules-based international order for a continent without a permanent population.

Antarctic Treaty System (ATS)

  • Antarctic Treaty and related agreements are collectively known as the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS)
  • It regulates international relations with respect to Antarctica
  • Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude
  • Antarctic Treaty Secretariat Headquarters — Buenos Aires, Argentina

Major International Agreements of the Treaty System:

  • The 1959 Antarctic Treaty.
  • The 1972 Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals.
  • The 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
  • The 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty.

Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR),1982

  • Objective:
    1. To conserve Antarctic marine life.
    2. Response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem.
    3. It practises an ecosystem-based management approach.
  • Headquartered at Hobart, Tasmania.

East Antarctic Marine Park/ Sanctuary:

  • Australia and France met in Hobart at the meeting of Commission for the Conservation of Antartic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to create a massive ocean sanctuary in East Antarctica. East Antarctica Marine Park would be 1 million sq km of Ocean.
  • It has previously established other major ocean Antarctic sanctuaries – including World’s largest spanning 1.55 million sq. km. in Ross Sea.
  • But China and Russia are opposing the move. CCAMLR has 26 members.

Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty

  • It designates Antarctica as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”
  • It sets forth basic principles applicable to human activities in Antarctica
  • Article 7, prohibits all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except for scientific research.
  • It was signed in Madrid on October 4, 1991 and entered into force in 1998.

India’s Antarctic Expeditions and Programmes

  • The Indian Antarctic expeditions began in 1981.
  • The first trip comprised of a team of 21 scientists and support staff led by Dr SZ Qasim. After a humble beginning, the Indian Antarctic programme has now credited to have built three permanent research base stations in Antarctica—named Dakshin Gangotri, Maitri, and Bharati. As of today, India has two operational research stations in Antarctica named Maitri and Bharati.

  • The National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa, manages the entire Indian Antarctic program.

National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa also works on the Arctic.

  • It renamed as NCPOR (National Center for Polar and Ocean Research).
  • NCAOR was established in 1998 for expeditions to Antarctic 1st now both.
  • NCPOR is India’s premier R&D institution in the Polar and Southern Ocean realms.
  • The mandate of NCPOR is multi-dimensional:
    1. Research and Help in Expeditions to the Polar and Ocean sciences (Indian part of Southern Ocean).
    2. Geo scientific surveys of India's EEZ and beyond 200M, Deep sea drilling in Arabian Sea basin, exploration for ocean non-living resources such as the gas hydrates and multi-metal sulphides in mid-ocean ridges.
    3. Upkeep of Research bases of Maitri and Bharati of Antarctic and Himadri at Arctic.
    4. Upkeep research vessel ORV Sagar Kanya and others.
  • The research-vessel fleet consists of 6 research vessels viz Sagar Kanya, Sagar Sampata, Sagar Nidhi, Sagar Manjusha, Sagar Purvi & Saga Paschmi currently, and a 7th being the Polar Research Vessel (PRV) is being constructed.

  • Dakshin Gangotri was the first Indian scientific research base station established in Antarctica, as a part of the Indian Antarctic Program. Dakshin Gangotri is closed.
  • Maitri is India’s second permanent research station in Antarctica. It was built on Schirmacher Oasis and finished in 1989. India also built a freshwater lake around Maitri known as Lake Priyadarshini. India is rebuilding Maitri and expanding its infra development in Antarctica through Bharati.
  • Bharati: Bharti, India’s latest research station operation since 2012. It has been constructed to help researchers work in safety despite the harsh weather.
  • In 2008, India commissioned the Sagar Nidhi, for research. An ice-class vessel, it can cut through the thin ice of 40 cm depth and is the first Indian vessel to navigate Antarctic waters.

Indian Scientific Expedition to the Southern Ocean 2020

  • This is the 11th expedition of an Indian mission to the Southern Ocean, or Antarctic Ocean. The first mission took place between January and March 2004.
  • The 18-institution team, led by Dr Anoop Mahajan from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, are collecting air and water samples from around 60 stations along the cruise track.
  • These will give valuable information on the state of the ocean and atmosphere in this remote environment and will help to understand its impacts on the climate.
  • A key objective of the mission is to quantify changes that are occurring and the impact of these changes on large-scale weather phenomenon, like the Indian monsoon, through tele-connection
  • The Expedition consists of 6 core projects:
    1. Hydrodynamics and biogeochemistry of the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean at different depths. It will help to understand the formation of Antarctic bottom water.
    2. Observations of movement of trace gases (halogens and dimethyl sulphur) from the ocean to the atmosphere which will help to improve parameterisations that are used in global models.
    3. Study of organisms namely, coccolithophores (existed in the oceans for several million years). We'll get to know past climate.
    4. Investigate atmospheric aerosols and their optical and radiative properties. Its continuous measurements will quantify the impact on Earth’s climate.
    5. Study the Southern Ocean’s impact on Indian monsoons.
    6. Dynamics of the food web in the Southern Ocean which will help to implement sustainable fishing.

40th Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica

  • India today launched the 40th scientific expedition to Antarctica.
  • This Indian expedition marks four decades of country’s scientific endeavour to the southern white continent.
  • The 40th expedition journey will be flagged off from Goa on January 5, 2021, with 43 members onboard.
  • The chartered ice-class vessel MV Vasiliy Golovnin will make this journey and will reach Antarctica in 30 days. After leaving behind a team of 40 members, it would return to India in April 2021. On return, it will also bring back the winter team of the preceding trip.
  • The focus is to support the ongoing scientific projects on climate change, geology, ocean observations, electric and magnetic flux measurements, environmental monitoring; resupplying of food, fuel, provisions and spare; and accomplishing the return of the winter crew. India is committed to maintaining the continent of Antarctica free of COVID-19.
  • The expedition will duly follow all protocols for the deployment of men and material as per Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs(COMNAP).

Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP):

  • It is the international association, formed in 1988, which brings together the National Antarctic Programs.
  • National Antarctic Programs are those organizations that have responsibility for delivering and supporting scientific research in the Antarctic Treaty Area on behalf of their respective governments and in the spirit of the Antarctic Treaty.
  • Its secretariat is in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • COMNAP has an observer status at the Antarctic Treaty System's yearly Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM).

SONIC Project

  • SONIC Stands for Schirmacher Oasis Nippon (Japan) India Coring. It was initiated during 2019 to reconstruct the past climate.
  • It is an Indo-Japanese project that was initiated during 2019 to reconstruct the past-climate.
  • In 2019 India-Japan under the aegis of National Center for Polar and Ocean Research and National Institute of Polar Research signed an MoU to share and carry out R & D in Antarctica
  • Objective of SONIC
    1. To understand the ice sheet variability at the Schirmacher Oasis to examine East Antarctic Ice Sheet sensitivity and its response to glacial-interglacial cycles
    2. To assess the variability biological community through study of pigments and DNA

MADICE Project

  • India also collaborated with Norway in Antarctic Research
  • A major Indo-Norweigian collaborative field campaign, near Indian Maitri station, was undertaken during 2016–2019 to understand the ice shelf dynamics, mass balance and reconstruct past changes in atmospheric and sea ice dynamics under the joint project “Mass balance, dynamics, and climate of the central Dronning Maud Land coast, East Antarctica (MADICE)”.
  • Ice core drilling, ice-sheet modelling and satellite remote sensing-based studies were conducted to understand the future Antarctic contribution to the global sea-level rise.

To reach Everything about Arctic: click here

Extra news: NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA)

Recently, NASA’s Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) has detected the unusual upward movement of neutrinos in Antarctica.

What is ANITA?

  • Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) is a radio telescope instrument to detect ultra-high energy cosmic-ray neutrinos from a scientific balloon flying over the continent of Antarctica.
  • It involves an array of radio antennas attached to a helium balloon which flies over the Antarctic ice sheet at 37,000 meters.
  • At such a height, the antennas can listen to the cosmos and detect high-energy particles, known as neutrinos, which constantly bombard the planet.
  • It is the first NASA observatory for neutrinos of any kind.
  • ANITA detects neutrinos pinging in from space and colliding with matter in the Antarctic ice sheet through the Askaryan effect.
  • The Askaryan effect is the phenomenon whereby a particle traveling faster than the phase velocity of light in a dense dielectric (such as salt, ice or the lunar regolith) produces a shower of secondary charged particles.
  • When neutrinos smash into an atom, they produce a shower of detectable secondary particles.These detectable secondary particles allow us to probe where they came from in the universe.
  • However, neutrinos pose no threat to human beings and pass through most solid objects. Additionally, they rarely do interact with matter. It is named after Gurgen Askaryan, a Soviet-Armenian physicist who postulated it in 1962.

What is the news?

  • Instead of the high-energy neutrinos streaming in from space, they seem to have come from the Earth's interior, before hitting the detectors of ANITA. Usually, the high-energy particles move top to bottom (i.e. from space to the earth). However, ANITA has detected an anomaly i.e. particles have been detected travelling bottom to top.
  • Earlier, researchers had also located a deep-space source for high-energy neutrinos through the Ice Cube Neutrino Observatory at a U.S. scientific research station at the South Pole in Antarctica (PT). The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) is located at the Bodi West Hills region in Theni District of Tamil Nadu.

Click here for the complete news on Neutrinos

Source: TH

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