Celebration of International Polar Year in NISCAIR



“Maintain Balance between Development and Ecology”

Shri Somnath Chaterjee

Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha



THE Lok Sabha Speaker Shri Somnath Chatterjee called for adopting a path that promotes development without hindering the delicate ecological balance. He was speaking at a function organized by the National Institute of science Communication And Information Resources (NISCAIR), CSIR to mark the International Polar Year. With the participation of thousands of scientists from more than 60 nations, the International Polar Year is the largest-ever international program of scientific research focused on the Earth's Polar Regions.

The Speaker also released special issues of NISCAIR’s publications Indian Journal of Marine Sciences and Science Reporter (February 2009 issue) dealing with this very important subject that could cause widespread changes in the world climate in times to come.  

Delivering his Keynote Address, Shri Somnath Chatterjee underlined the need to make the people aware that the changes beginning to be observed in the Polar Regions today will not remain confined to those regions alone. They will have their adverse effects on the whole ecosystem and necessarily on human life and society. There is indeed an urgent need to understand the vulnerability of the Polar Regions, which have a profound influence on the global environment, particularly on the weather and climate systems.

He said he was happy that CSIR and the Ministry of Earth Sciences have been collaborating with international scientific institutions to forge closer scientific links on this issue of grave concern to the world community. Referring to Shri Kapil Sibal, the Speaker said, “This Ministry and the CSIR are fortunate to have a Minister who has had first hand experience of the real situation in both Antarctica and the Arctic by his visits there and direct interaction with the scientists working in this crucial area.”

Shri Somnath Chatterjee said that the Polar Regions are especially vulnerable to the phenomenon of global warming. As more greenhouse gases cause our planet to warm, some of the ice and snow in the Polar Regions melts, less of the solar radiation is reflected out to space, and more of it is absorbed by the Earth’s surface and oceans. The added energy further warms the Polar Regions, causes more ice to melt and more warming. This vicious cycle will ultimately lead to rising sea levels and flooding of vast tracts of the Earth making large areas uninhabitable.

            Earlier, in his Welcome Address, Shri Nikhilesh Jha, Joint Secretary, CSIR gave an account of the strong contributions to polar studies made by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, a constituent establishment of CSIR, was in the fore-front in executing the first Indian scientific expedition to Antarctica. Dr S. Z. Quasim, the then Director, NIO, was the leader of this first Indian scientific expedition. The expedition had been launched on 6th Dec 1981 and the team reached Goa from Antarctica on 21st February 1982. The team consisted of 13 scientists and 8 were from the constituent establishments of CSIR.

            The leader of the third expedition to Antarctica was Dr H.K. Gupta, former Director, National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad. Scientists from the constituent establishments of CSIR, viz., NIO, NPL and NGRI have been leaders of the team for nine scientific expeditions to Antarctica.

            Shri Jha pointed out that scientists working in CSIR laboratories have published more than 120 research papers in SCI journals on the biodiversity of flora and fauna, geology and geophysical aspects, atmospheric sciences and chemical characteristics of marine algae of Antarctica.

            The Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), another institute of CSIR, owns 12.5% of the new species identified by the global scientific community in Antarctica. The National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), yet another institute of CSIR, owns 12 new species of lichen from the McLeod Island, Antarctica. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has also been planning to set up a fully operational multi-instrument ionospheric real-time monitoring facility both at Arctic and Antarctica and to run the facility for a minimum of 11 years. The National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) has achieved a major global role in maintenance and improvement of a Global Reference Frame.

            In fact, scientists working in CSIR laboratories have been associated with all the twenty-eight Indian scientific expeditions to Antarctica. In this context, Contributions of CSIR to Antarctica Research, a comprehensive document containing collection of reprints of the work done by CSIR scientists on Antarctica, was brought out by CSIR during the year 2006. The Compendium consists of 116 papers published in SCI journals.

            Indian contributions to the cause of polar research were further highlighted in an inspiring presentation by Dr Rasik Ravindra, Director, National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Goa. He said that the Indian Antarctic Programme began way back in December 1981 when the first Indian expedition was flagged off from Goa. Subsequently, annual Antarctic expeditions are being sent under the aegis of the Department of Ocean Development/National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research.

            To date, twenty seven such expeditions have been undertaken, including one to the Weddell Sea and another one to the Southern Ocean for krill exploration. India has two permanent stations in the Antarctica and now one in the Arctic, said Dr Ravindra. Another one is soon coming up in the Antarctic. He said that by virtue of India’s sustained interest and demonstrative capabilities in polar science, our country has achieved several milestones.

            India was admitted to the Antarctic Treaty on 19 August 1983 and soon thereafter obtained Consultative Status on 12 September 1983. India was admitted as a member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) on 1 October 1984 and became a member of Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in 1986. India also ratified the Environment Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty in 1997, thus upholding its commitment to preserve the pristine continent.

            During the function, the Hon’ble Speaker of the Lok Sabha Shri Somnath Chatterjee also launched a project entitled, “Development of Database for Climate Impact Studies”. The project has been initiated by NISCAIR and will be executed in collaboration with the School of Environmental Sciences and School of Social Sciences of the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Prof. V.K. Jain, Dean of Students, JNU, giving a glimpse into the objectives of the project said that Asia will be particularly vulnerable to climate change followed by sea level rise, especially major population centers at low elevations, such as Mumbai in India; Shanghai in China; Jakarta in Indonesia; Tokyo in Japan and Dhaka in Bangladesh to name a few.

The basic objectives of the project, therefore, are to observe and analyse the temporal and spatial changes in rainfall, temperature, evaporation and groundwater- quantity and quality in the Lakshadweep islands; develop a web-enabled database based on  data of observed and published documents about  changes in natural resources and socio-economic variables due to climate change; develop a framework and decision support tool to assess the climate change impacts on natural resources and socio-economic variables and to formulate a methodology for developing capacity for the proper adaptation and mitigation due to climate change.





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Hon'ble Speaker releasing special issue of the Indian Journal of Marine Sciences

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Hon’ble Speaker releasing the February issue of Science Reporter

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Hon’ble Speaker delivering the Keynote Address

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Dr Rasik Ravindra, Director, NCAOR delivering the Theme Address. On the dais from left: Shri Pradip Banerjee, Acting Director, NISCAIR; Hon’ble Speaker Shri Somnath Chatterjee; Shri Nikhilesh Jha, Joint Secretary, CSIR and Prof. V.K. Jain, Dean of Students, JNU

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A View of the Audience