From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Arctic Council
Mains level : Exploration of the Arctic
India has unveiled a new draft ‘Arctic’ policy that and is committed to expanding scientific research, “sustainable tourism” and mineral oil and gas exploration in the Arctic region.
Note: Five Arctic littoral states — Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia and the USA (Alaska) — and three other Arctic nations — Finland, Sweden and Iceland — form the Arctic Council (estd. 1996).
Try mapping them.
Caution: India became an Observer in the Arctic Council for the first time in 2013. And, India isn’t a full-time observer.
India at the Arctic
- India launched its first scientific expedition to the Arctic in 2007 and set up a research station ‘Himadri’ in the international Arctic research base at Ny-Ålesund in Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway.
- It has two other observatories in Kongsforden and Gruvebadet. Himadri is manned for about 180 days a year.
- Since its establishment, over 300 Indian researchers have worked in the station. India has sent 13 expeditions to the Arctic since 2007 and runs 23 active projects.
Draft ‘Arctic’ policy
- The draft policy discusses the importance of understanding the impact of climate change in the Arctic region and its connection with India’s monsoon, which is crucial for its economy.
- India also proposes to focus on vast resources of the Arctic region including hydrocarbons, minerals and renewable power to ensure its energy security.
- The policy is cautious in framing its involvement in the Arctic as “common heritage of mankind” but its priorities are similar to that of other non-Arctic states.
- This policy roadmap draft rides on five pillars:
- Science and research activities,
- Economic and human development cooperation,
- Transportation and connectivity,
- Governance and international cooperation, and
- National capacity building.
- The Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research to lead scientific research and act as a nodal body.
- It would thus coordinate among various scientific bodies to promote domestic scientific research capacities by expanding earth sciences, biological sciences, climate change and space-related programmes, dove-tailed with Arctic imperatives.
Why study arctic?
- The Arctic is home to almost four million inhabitants, of which approximately one-tenth are considered as indigenous people.
- Climate change has meant that seasons in the Arctic influence tropical weather.
- The Arctic influences atmospheric, oceanographic and biogeochemical cycles of the earth’s ecosystem.
- The loss of sea ice, ice caps, and warming of the ocean and atmosphere would lower salinity in the global oceans.
- This could increase the temperature differential between land and oceans in the tropical regions, dry subtropical areas and increase precipitation at higher latitudes.
- Arctic research will help India’s scientific community to study melting rates of the third pole — the Himalayan glaciers.