4 February 2020
By Dr Shailesh Nayak
Dr Shailesh Nayak is currently Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies and Distinguished Scientist in the Ministry of Earth Sciences. He was the Chair, Earth System Science Organization (ESSO) and Secretary to the Government of India for Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), between August 2008-2015
What happens in the Arctic is just not concentrated there. A study of the Earth System model explains how the world is connected geographically and this brings in the need to study critical phenomena like monsoons and ocean currents. The focus should not only be on how Arctic affects India but also on how India affects the Arctic. The general opinion about ‘Arctic being far away from India and hence need not be our concern’ is baseless given India’s high interest in lunar phenomena that definitely occur many times farther than the Arctic. What India is lacking is an integrated weather forecasting where Arctic can play a major role. The human interface with the melting of ice, sea level rise and landmass submergence is not fully comprehended by scientists across the world.
Several lack in research in areas like the role of global warming on global systems including its effect on albedo and surface darkening of ice due to algae; heat absorption in fresh water which is higher in comparison to saline water; increase in greenhouse gas due to release of trapped methane into the atmosphere from the melting of permafrost layers and research on the extent of anthropogenic activities’ influence on critical geographical phenomena could only be overcome when Artic is studied holistically to adapt to climate change. There is a need to estimate the cost of cyclones on the coast. The coasts in the tropical countries are where the developing and the developed economies are situated; the cost of sea level rise and the frequent cyclones there could incur global economic turn down.
India’s strategy in the Arctic should be first, to establish research stations in the Greenland that could function in the winters. This will help India get the all-round global data to link the geo physical impacts. Second, the Arctic has rich reserves for the rare earths. India Arctic policy should aim at understanding the importance of the rare earth metals in India’s science and technology development. Third, India should play an active role in managing the shipping routes, sea bed explorations and participatory role in the international forums. Last, there should be an acceptance of the Indian monsoon research linked to the Arctic research.