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  • 19 May, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

Everything about: Arctic

Everything about: the Arctic

Arctic mapping

  1. Read all this from Orient Longman Blackswan Atlas as Ankit Sir teaches in his Mapping classes.
  2. Barent (Kola penin), Kara (Yamal penin), Laptev (Taymyr penin), Eastern Siberian (Kolyma lowland), Chukchi, Beaufort sea (USA, Canada), Gulf of Boothia, Baffin Bay.
  3. Lincoln sea is between Denmark and the Arctic.
  4. Gunnbjorn Mt is in Denmark.
  5. The Denmark Strait is between Greenland (Denmark) and Iceland.
  6. Greenland is between the Denmark Strait and the Davis Strait.
  7. Arctic Circle only cuts Kola and Chukchi Penin. Also Davis & Denmark Strait.
  8. Aleut, Athabaskan, Gwich'in, Inuit, and Saami are the tribes of the Arctic.
  9. Flora and Fauna of the Arctic = Polar bear, Arctic fox, Bowhead whale, Beluga whale, Arctic Hare and ringed seal, walrus, harp seal, Arctic tarn and goose. Also Lichens and Mosses. GrizzlyBear is found in Canada, US, Europe.Sea lion or Walrus is found in the Arctic.
  10. Nordic countries are a cultural grouping of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland and Denmark.

About Arctic Region

  • The Arctic region is a polar region located in the northernmost part of Earth.
  • The Arctic consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
  • Land within the Arctic region has seasonally varying snow and ice cover, with predominantly treeless permafrost (permanently frozen underground ice) containing tundra. Arctic seas contain seasonal sea ice in many places.
  • The Arctic region is a unique area among Earth's ecosystems. The cultures in the region and the Arctic indigenous peoples have adapted to its cold and extreme conditions.
  • Life in the Arctic includes zooplankton and phytoplankton, fish and marine mammals, birds, land animals, plants and human societies.
  • Arctic land is bordered by the subarctic.

Arctic Council

  1. It is an intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by Arctic Govts and indigenous people of the Arctic (Inuit, Aleut, Athabaskan, Gwich'in, Saami).
  2. Ottawa declaration is related to the formation of the Arctic Council in 1996.
  3. There are 8 members: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and USA. Decisions are based on Consensus.
  4. Observer States: India, China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, UK, France, Switzerland, Spain.
  5. 1st countries to chair the Arctic was Canada, 2017 to 2019 Finland; 2019 to 2021: and Iceland.
  6. It has 6 working groups
    1. Arctic Contaminants Action Programme
    2. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme
    3. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group
    4. Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response Working Group
    5. Sustainable Development Working Group
    6. Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation
  7. Significance of Arctic
    1. Rules based on International order and that it should not be a disputed zone.
    2. ONG and military bases of Russia.
    3. Diplomatic interest to neutralize China.
    4. R&D wrt Climate Change.
  8. Issues
    1. Militarization of the Arctic: Russia (Murmansk) vs USA (Nuuk - Greenland).
    2. Russia also launched a floating Nuclear Power Plant in the Arctic to provide Electricity to small Islands.
    3. Oil spill in the Arctic.

India and Arctic Programmes

  • India initiated its Arctic Research program in 2007 with thrust on CC at Poles.
    1. Study connections between Arctic climate and Indian monsoon.
    2. Study sea ice to estimate the effect of global warming on Poles.
    3. Study on effects of glaciers on Sea level change.
    4. Flora & Fauna Assessment and their response to anthro activities. Comparative study of both Poles.
  • India launched its 1st sci expedition in 2007 and opened "Himadri" at Ny-Alesund, Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard (Norway).
  • National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa also works on the Arctic.
    1. It was renamed NCPOR (National Center for Polar and Ocean Research).
    2. NCAOR was established in 1998 for expeditions to the Antarctic 1st now both.
    3. NCPOR is India’s premier R&D institution in the Polar and Southern Ocean realms.
    4. 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 the 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 the Arctic.
      4. Upkeep research vessel ORV Sagar Kanya and others.
    5. 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.

HIMANSH Station at Spiti, HP

  • It is India’s remote, high-altitude research station in the Himalayas called HIMANSHU at Spiti, HP.
  • As part of the Indian government’s initiatives to better study and quantify the Himalayan glacier responses to climate change, the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences has established a high-altitude research station in Himalaya called HIMANSHU (literally meaning, a slice of ice), situated above 13,500 ft (> 4000 m) at Sutri Dhaka, Chandra basin, Lahaul-Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh.
  • Objectives: To facilitate Himalayan Cryosphere Studies in the Chandra basin to study the dynamics and the rate of change of Himalayan glaciers to understand their impact on hydrology and climate. \
  • Since Upper Himalayas has been dominated by the very harsh climate and terrain conditions, the station will enable scientists and field staff to stay in a relatively weather-resistant environment and carry out field experiments and monitoring on a continuous basis.
  • HIMANSHU has been established under the NCAOR program “Cryosphere and Climate” for proper monitoring of glaciers to understand the dynamics, mass budget, energy and hydrological balance of Chandra basin.
  • Observations: A total of six glaciers (280 km2 glacier area) of Chandra basin name Sutri Dhaka, Batal, Bara Shigri, Samudra Tapu, Gepang Gath and Kunjum have been monitored for mass, energy and hydrological balance including surface flow, ice flux, terminal fluctuation using this station “HIMANSHU”.

India Project

  • It is India's 1st underwater observatory in the frigid waters of Arctic Ocean in the Kongsfjorden fjord (natural lab). It is wtho Norway.
  • It will help scientists understand the Arctic climate process and its influence on the Indian Monsoon system. It will also study the salinity and temperature profile.
  • It is designed and developed by scientists from (Earth System Science Organisation) ESSO; NCAOR, Goa; NIOT, Chennai; INCOIS, Hyderabad.

MOSAiC mission (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the study of Arctic Climate.)

  • It aims to understand Global Warming. The mission has received funding from US institutions like NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • It is the largest ever Arctic expedition. Scientists from 17 countries will take part in this year long mission as they anchor the ship (German icebreaker RV Polarstern) to a large piece of Arctic sea ice to study climate change.

  • This mission comes 125 years after Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen 1st managed to seal his wooden expedition ship, Fram into the ice during a 3 year expedition to the North Pole.
  • India’s Vishnu Nandan is among the 300 researchers who will deploy radar sensor on the sea ice surface from Polarstern. It is the 1st study of this scale at the North Pole for an entire year.

Other programmes

  • India - Sweden: MoU for Polar Science Cooperation (both for Arctic & Antarctic).
  • ARLS (Agreement on Reciprocal Logistics Support) with Russia will give access to Russian bases in Arctic for logistics & operational turnaround.

India’s Arctic Policy

India’s Arctic Policy roadmap for sustainable engagement draft is based on five pillars:

  1. Science and research activities,
  2. Economic and human development cooperation,
  3. Transportation and connectivity,
  4. Governance and international cooperation, and
  5. National capacity building.

Highlights of the Policy:

  • The policy commits to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.
  • The draft spells out goals in India’s Arctic Mission such as to better understand the scientific and climate-related linkages between the Arctic and the Indian monsoons.
  • It also seeks to harmonise polar research with the third pole (the Himalayas) and to advance the study and understanding of the Arctic within India.
  • The policy calls for exploration opportunities for responsible exploration of natural resources and minerals from the Arctic and identifying opportunities for investment in Arctic infrastructure in areas such as “offshore exploration/mining, ports, railways and airports.

Nodal Agency

India has designated the Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research to lead scientific research and act as a nodal body to coordinate among various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities in the arctic. Read in detail about the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research on the given link.

Objectives of India’s Draft Arctic Policy

  • Promotion of Scientific Study of Arctic Region – Orient the curriculum on earth sciences, geosciences, climate change, biological sciences, and space-related programmes, dove-tailed with Arctic imperatives in Indian Universities.
  • Promotion of Arctic Tourism – to encourage tourism and hospitality sectors by building specialised capacities and awareness by engaging with Arctic enterprises.
  • Planning the explorations in the Arctic region – to formulate effective plans for Arctic-related programmes for mineral, oil and gas exploration in petroleum research institutes.

Arctic’s ice called “Last Ice Area” to be melted before expected

  • A part of the Arctic’s ice called “Last Ice Area”, located north of Greenland, has melted before expected. Scientists had believed this area was strong enough to withstand global warming.
  • But now, in a paper published in the journal “Communications Earth & Environment”, researchers note that in August 2020 the area where the Last Ice Area (LIA) is located, experienced a record low concentration of sea ice. Significantly, they point out that sea-ice has been thinning for years, a trend they think has been prevalent because of climate change.

What is the Last Ice Area?

  • In an article published in 2015, the National Geographic noted that while climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer ice in the Arctic by the year 2040, the only place that would be able to withstand a warming climate would be this area of ice called the “Last Ice Area”.
  • The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) notes that climate change is shrinking the extent of Arctic summer sea ice, which is not only important for animals but also the local Inuit communities.
  • But while this piece of ice above northern Canada and Greenland was expected to last the longest time, it is now showing signs of melting. WWF claims that WWF-Canada was the first to call this area ‘Last Ice Area’.

Why is the area important?

  • The area is important because it was thought to be able to help ice-dependent species as ice in the surrounding areas melted away.
  • The area is used by polar bears to hunt for seals who use ice to build dens for their offspring.
  • Walruses too, use the surface of the ice for foraging.

When did the area start changing?

  • In the paper for which research was led by the University of Washington, researchers note that the first sign of change in LIA was observed in 2018.
  • Further, in August last year, sea ice showed its “vulnerability” to the long-term effects of climate change. The ice in LIA has been thinning gradually over the years much like other parts of the Arctic Ocean.

What are the reasons that explain the change?

  • Through satellite images, researchers noted that the sea ice concentration was at a record low of 50 percent, as of August 14, 2020. The team also explored the reasons for the record low concentration of sea ice.
  • They say that about 80 percent of thinning can be attributed to weather-related factors such as winds that break up and move the ice around.
  • The remaining 20 percent can be attributed to longer-term thinning of the ice due to global warming.
  • Even so, the results of their study cannot be applied to the entire region considering there are some unknowns, such as how more open water in the region would affect ice-dependent species over the short and long term.

To read everything about Antarctic: click here

Source: TH

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