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On Thin Ice: Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas

The melting of snow in the Arctic and Antarctic due to global warming and climate change is reported frequently. However, the melting of the Himalayan glaciers goes largely unreported, even though more people are impacted.

Anomalies in temperatures, global cryosphere and sea level rise are the driving factors for negative impact on global conveyor belt at the three poles of the Earth. This phenomenon was explained with substantial data by Dr. A L Ramanathan, a Professor of Environmental Geology, Hydrogeochemistry, Biogeochemistry and Glaciology Laboratory at the School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He revealed this information in his presentation on ‘Glacier health and link to global climate system’ which was delivered on the first day during the two-day seminar named-’On Thin Ice: Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas’.

He also mentioned the fact that India now has 5-6 years of data on Himalayan glaciers which was initially considered as a ‘white spot’ as there was no recorded data in that area. But, now India has found out that Indus and Ganga glaciers are largely affected. Only Karakoram glacier appears to be in stable health.

Dr. A L Ramanathan, a Professor of Environmental Geology, Hydrogeochemistry, Biogeochemistry and Glaciology Laboratory at the School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Dr. A L Ramanathan, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Leading researchers, experts and scientists from Norway, European Commission and India participated in this elite seminar which was organized by the Norwegian embassy and Jawaharlal Nehru University between 29 and 30 November, 2016 at JNU convention centre. The objective of the seminar was to address the issue of temperatures rise.

The discussions in the seminar was along these three tracks:

  • Past, present and future changes in Arctic, Antarctic and Himalayas and linkages to global climate systems
  • The human dimension of changes
  • Geopolitics of the three poles

The inaugural session commenced at 2 PM chaired by Prof. S. Mukherjee, Dean, School of Environmental Sciences, JNU; Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar, Vice Chancellor, JNU; Dr. M. Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES); and, H.E. Mr. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, Ambassador of Norway to India.

Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar,H.E. Mr. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg,Dr. M. Rajeevan and Prof. S. Mukherjee sitting from left to right at the two day seminar on 'On Thin Ice Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas' between 29 and 30 November, 2016.

Prof. M. Jagadesh Kumar,H.E. Mr. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg,Dr. M. Rajeevan and Prof. S. Mukherjee sitting from left to right at the two day seminar on ‘On Thin Ice Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas’ between 29 and 30 November, 2016.

Mr. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, during his presentation informed everyone about the good relation India and Norway has in research work being conducted in Antarctica. Several projects have been initiated with successful results and now recently both the nations have agreed on eight more collaborated research projects in the same area.

Mr. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, Ambassador of Norway to India

Mr. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, Ambassador of Norway to India

The Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas are entering what is being described as ‘a new era’. As temperatures rise, the ice at our “three poles” melts. Melting ice and the changes we face in the Arctic, Antarctic and the Himalayas is a tremendous challenge, it affects our entire global community.

A number of governments maintain permanent research stations in Antarctica and these bases are widely distributed. Unlike the bases set up in the Arctic, the research stations of the Antarctic are constructed either on rock or on ice that is fixed in place.

In January 2015, the Norwegian Polar Institute sent its research vessel into the constant winter darkness and allowed her to freeze into the ice at 83 degrees north, 756 km from the North Pole and 364 km from land. On board were researchers who wanted explanations for climate change. To understand what is happening, they had to be right there, in the ice, from winter to summer, to study the melting ice at close range. The work of analyzing all the data they collected will continue for several years.

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