Tuesday February 19, 2019

India’s scientific mission in Antarctica gets Rs 1051 crore ‘gift’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

To strengthen India’s research base in Antarctica, the government today authorised the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR), Goa to acquire a Polar Research Vehicle (PRV) at the cost of Rs 1051 crore.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) had approved acquisition of the Polar Research Vessel (PRV) in October last year at an estimated expenditure of over Rs. 1051 crore,” Minister of State for Earth Sciences YS Chowdary said.

He said the vessel is expected to contribute to India’s scientific expeditions and to sustain research at two Indian bases in Antarctica (Maitri and Bharti) and also dovetail research initiatives in the Southern Ocean domain in the proximal regions of the Antarctic continent.

“Taking into consideration the growing need of the scientific community to initiate studies in the frontier realms of ocean sciences, and the uncertainty in the charter-hire of polar vessels and the ever-escalating chartering costs it was decided to explore the feasibility of constructing and commissioning a polar research vessel which can cater to both the scientific and logistics aspects of the polar and Southern Ocean programmes,” the minister said, and added, that the PRV will give an expansion to our scientific activities into the Arctic and Southern Ocean.

“It could also widen the thrust on Arctic research disciplines, undertaken through Indian Station Himadri, in addition to providing a suitable research platform for other ocean research programmes,” Chowdary said.

Ever since the first Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica began way back in 1981, India has been managing the transportation of the expedition personnel and cargo to and back from Antarctica through chartered vessels.

 

 

 

 

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Rapid Decay Indicated By Giant Cavity In Antarctic Glaciers

The melting rate on this side of the glacier is extremely high.

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A glacier is shown in a photo taken in Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, Feb. 18, 2018.
A glacier is shown in a photo taken in Half Moon Bay, Antarctica, Feb. 18, 2018. VOA

Scientists from NASA have discovered a gigantic cavity, almost 300 metres tall, growing at the bottom of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica, indicating acceleration in rising global sea levels due to climate change.

The size of the cavity, at Thwaites’ bottom where ocean water could flow in and melt the glacier from below, is big enough to have contained 14 billion tonnes of ice.

Importantly, most of that ice melted over the last three years, the findings showed.

“(The size of) a cavity under a glacier plays an important role in melting,” said lead author Pietro Milillo of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.

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The Collins glacier on King George Island has retreated in the last 10 years and shows signs of fragility, in the Antarctic, Feb. 2, 2018. VOA

“As more heat and water get under the glacier, it melts faster.”

The cavity, reported in the Science Advances journal, was revealed by ice-penetrating radar in NASA’s Operation IceBridge — an airborne campaign beginning in 2010 that studies connections between the polar regions and the global climate.

Thwaites Glacier is currently responsible for approximately 4 per cent of global sea level rise.

It holds enough ice to raise the world’s oceans a little over 2 feet and backstops neighbouring glaciers that would raise sea levels to an additional 8 feet if all the ice were lost.

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Antarctica melting away at alarming rate: Study. Flickr

Thwaites is one of the hardest places to reach on Earth, but it is about to become better known than ever before.

The huge cavity was under the main trunk of the glacier on its western side – the side farther from the West Antarctic Peninsula.

In this region, as the tide rises and falls, the grounding line retreats and advances across a zone of about 3 to 5 km. The glacier has been coming unstuck from a ridge in the bedrock at a steady rate of about 0.6 to 0.8 km a year since 1992.

Also Read: Global Greenhouse Gas Level Continues To Rise, Need For a New Political and Investment Paradigm

Despite this stable rate of grounding-line retreat, the melting rate on this side of the glacier is extremely high.

These results highlighted that ice-ocean interactions were more complex than previously understood. (VOA)