India Attends Third Arctic Science Ministerial

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    Recently, India has participated in the 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM3).

    About Arctic Science Ministerial

    • It is a global platform for discussing research and cooperation in the Arctic region.
    • Aims
      • To provide opportunities to various stakeholders, including academia, indigenous communities, governments and policymakers.
      • To enhance collective understanding of the Arctic region, emphasize and engage in constant monitoring and strengthen observations.
    • Earlier Versions
      • The first two meetings, ASM1 (2016) and ASM2 (2018) were held in the US and Germany, respectively.
    • ASM3
      • It was jointly organised by Iceland and Japan.
        • It was the first Ministerial meeting which was held in Asia.
      • Theme: Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic.

    Highlights of Indian Participation

    • Shared its vision and long-term plans for research, work and cooperation in the Arctic region with the stakeholders.
    • Welcomed collaborations towards strengthening observational systems and sharing of data to enhance knowledge and proposed hosting the next or future ASM.
    • Assured continuous role in deepening shared understanding of the Arctic through observation, research, capacity building and in promoting sustainable development of the region through international cooperation. 
    • Shared its plans to contribute observing systems in the Arctic, both in-situ and by remote sensing.
      • It would deploy open ocean mooring in the Arctic for long-term monitoring of upper ocean variables and marine meteorological parameters.
        • A mooring system is made up of a mooring line, anchor and connectors, and is used for station keeping of a ship or floating platform in all water depths.
      • It would launch the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)-Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISER) satellite mission, in collaboration with the US.
      • It would continue contributing to the Sustained Arctic Observational Network (SAON).

    India and the Arctic

    • India’s engagement with the Arctic dates back to 1920 with the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in Paris.
      • On 9th February 1920, Norway and eight other countries signed the Svalbard Treaty (originally the Spitsbergen Treaty).
      • It entered into force in 1925 and Svalbard became part of the Kingdom of Norway.
      • The treaty, now with nearly 50 signatories.
    • Since July 2008, India has had a permanent research station in the Arctic called Himadri at NyAlesund, Svalbard Area in Norway.
    • Since 2013, India has enjoyed ‘Observer’ status in the Arctic Council with twelve other countries (Japan, China, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Spain, Netherlands, Singapore, and South Korea).
    • India has also deployed the IndARC, a multi-sensor moored observatory, in the Kongsfjorden fjord since July 2014.
    • The research in the Arctic region from India is coordinated, conducted, and promoted by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
    • In January 2021, India drafted a new ‘Draft’ Arctic policy aiming at expanding scientific research, sustainable tourism and exploration of mineral oil and gas in the Arctic region.

    (Image Courtesy: NOAA)

    Significance

    • Although India’s territory does not fall directly in the Arctic region, it is a crucial area because it influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.
    • Arctic warming and its ice melt are global concerns as they play a pivotal role in regulating climate, sea levels, and maintaining biodiversity.
    • Improving the understanding of physical processes and quantifying the impact of Arctic ice melt on the Indian summer monsoon is very important.
      • There is growing evidence of connection between the Arctic and the Indian Ocean (which modulates the Indian monsoon).
    NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar

    • It is a joint project between NASA and ISRO to co-develop and launch a dual-frequency synthetic aperture radar on an Earth observation satellite.
    • It will scan the globe every 12 days over the course of its three-year mission of imaging the Earth for an unprecedented view of the planet.
    • Aims: To conduct global measurements of the cause and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.

    Sustaining Arctic Observing Network

    • It is a joint activity of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), an international non-governmental scientific organization, and the Arctic Council.
    • Aim: To support and strengthen the development of multinational engagement for sustained and coordinated pan-Arctic observing and data sharing systems.

    Arctic Council

    • It is a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction towards sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic.
    • It was formally established in 1996 and the first country to chair it was Canada (1996-1998).
    • Its chairmanship rotates every two years among the Arctic States.
    • It cannot and does not implement or enforce its guidelines, assessments or recommendations. That responsibility belongs to the individual Arctic States or international bodies.
    • India’s observer status was renewed for another five-year term in 2018.
      • As its part, India contributes to the international deliberations to develop effective cooperative partnerships towards a safe, stable and secure Arctic.

    Draft Arctic Policy

    • Under the policy, India will make sure that it abides by the rules and regulations of the Arctic Council.
    • Aims
      • To create opportunities where the Indian enterprises can be involved to become part of the international commerce businesses and promote traditional indigenous knowledge.
      • To connect the Arctic residents, especially the indigenous communities with those living in the Himalayan regions.
    • Five Pillars
      • Science and Research.
      • Economic and Human Development.
      • Transportation and Connectivity.
      • National Capacity building.
      • Governance and International Cooperation.
    • It has been synchronised and adapted to the Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities).
      Source: PIB