India gets first data from its Arctic moored observatory

The data, which was retrieved by last week, will be crucial in understanding the influence of Arctic processes on the monsoon system and climate change

New Delhi: India has for the first time collected data in the Arctic using its indigenously developed moored observatory IndARC that was deployed in the Arctic sea a year ago. The data, which was retrieved by Indian scientists last week, will be crucial in understanding the influence of Arctic processes on the Indian monsoon system and climate change.

“First time in India, we designed such a mooring system and deployed it in Arctic. The data is not recorded online but is recorded in-situ. After a year, scientists went there and retrieved it. There is a tele link between Indian monsoon and Arctic and now another mooring has been put there to establish this hypothesis," said M.A. Atmanand, a senior scientist at Chennai-based National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), one of the institutes involved in the project.

Indian scientists deployed IndARC, the country’s first multi-sensor moored observatory, in Kongsfjorden fjord of the Arctic, half way between Norway and the North Pole, in July 2014, an achievement which the Ministry of Earth Sciences describes as a major milestone.

This stretch of the Arctic Ocean is considered a natural laboratory for studying climate variability as it receives varying climatic signals from the Arctic and the Atlantic during the course of an annual seasonal cycle.

“We have one year’s data and lots of hypothesis on how the Indian monsoon and the Arctic are related. But we have to work out the mechanism by which the system is influenced," said Shailesh Nayak, secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences. “The data is large and there will be variation, seasonal and daily, that the scientists will have to sift through," he added.

The scientists were from the National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research and NIOT, while the Norwegian Polar Institute provided scientific and technical support.

For a year, the observatory collected real-time data on sea water temperature, salinity, current and other vital parameters of the fjord. The observatory was initially anchored about 1,100km from the North Pole at a depth of 192 metre. It has a collection of 10 oceanographic sensors strategically positioned at separate depths in the water.

One of the major challenges in such a study has been reaching the location during the harsh Arctic winter and getting near-surface data.