India Deploys First Ocean Moored Observatory in Arctic
NEW DELHI: In a big boost to India’s scientific endeavours in the Arctic region, a team of scientists have successfully deployed IndARC, the country’s first multi-sensor moored observatory in the North Pole, which will provide for an increased understanding of the response of the Arctic to climatic variabilities and their influence on the Indian Monsoon system.
Designed and developed by scientists from the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) and National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), the observatory has been deployed in the Kongsfjorden fjord of the Arctic, roughly halfway between Norway and the North Pole. It was deployed from the Norwegian Polar Institute’s research vessel R V Lance.
The observatory is presently anchored about 1,100 km away from the North Pole at a depth of 192 m and has an array of ten state-of-the-art oceanographic sensors strategically positioned at discrete depths in the water column. These sensors are programmed to collect real-time data on seawater temperature, salinity, current and other vital parameters of the fjord.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the data acquired would be of vital importance to the Indian climate researchers as well as to the international fraternity. In addition to providing for an increased understanding of the response of the Arctic to climatic variabilities, the data would also provide a good handle in our understanding of the Arctic processes and their influence on the Indian monsoon system through climate modelling studies.
The Kongsfjorden is an established reference site for the Arctic marine studies and has been considered as a natural laboratory for studying the Arctic climate variability, as it receives varying climatic signals from the Arcitc/Atlantic in the course of an annual seasonal cycle. “India has been continuously monitoring the Kongsfjorden since 2010 for understanding response of the fjord to climate variability at different time scales. The temperature and salinity profiles of the fjord, water column nutrients and diversity of biota are being monitored throughout the spring-summer-fall seasons,” a statement from the ministry said.
There exists a great need to know on how the fjord system is influenced by, or responds to exchanges with the water on the shelf and in the deep sea outside during an entire annual seasonal cycle. In particular, there is a need for continuous observations of the water transport into the interior part of the fjord.
“One of the major constraints in such a study has been the difficulty in reaching the location during the harsh Arctic winter and obtaining near-surface data. The IndARC observatory is an attempt to overcome this lacuna and collect continuous data from depths very close to the water surface as well as at different discrete depths,” it said.
The statement said the deployment is a testimony to the capabilities in installing underwater observatories.