India’s expedition to the Southern Ocean, scheduled to be launched in December, will deploy an under-ice mooring for a period of one year to understand the seasonal variabilities in the coastal waters of Bharati station in Antartica, and its impact on the ecosystem. An under-ice mooring is a line anchored to the seafloor and held aloft by floats at the surface. Bharati is an Antarctic research station commissioned by India. It is the country’s third research facility and one of two active stations, alongside Maitri. India’s first committed research facility, Dakshin Gangotri, is being used as a supply base. “During the Southern Ocean Expedition (SOE) 2017, detailed observations were made in the Prydz Bay (PB) region during austral summer,” Dr N Anilkumar, from Ocean Science Group of Goa-based National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) said.
“However in the Southern Ocean (SO) expedition 2017-18, it is planned to deploy an under-ice mooring for a period of one year,” he said. “This time, the observations are significant to understand the seasonal variabilities in the dynamics and bio-chemical processes of the coastal waters of Bharati station as well, as its impact on this ecosystem,” the scientist said. The tenth SOE to the Indian Ocean sector of the Southern Ocean will be launched in early December to have a comprehensive study in the region between the Polar Front (PF) and PB as well as with an under-ice mooring in the coastal waters of the Bharati station, Anilkumar said. The SO research programme is mainly focusing on the “role and response of Southern Ocean to the regional and global climate variability”.
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The previous SOEs, from 2004-2017, attempted to understand the spatial and temporal variability of different fronts as well as the coastal processes in the Indian Ocean sector of the SO based on the hydrographic data collected along various transects. “The last four years’ SOE mainly focused on the Subtropical Front (STF) to Polar Front (PF) and in the Prydz Bay (PB) region, coastal waters of Antarctica near India’s third station, Bharati,” the NCAOR said. A set of mooring equipments like current meters, micro-cats and sediment traps have been deployed in the STF region during SOE 2016-17 for a comprehensive understanding of the seasonal and inter-annual variability of the physical, biological and geological parameters of this dynamic regime.
The Indian Ocean sector of the SO is a region which remains under-investigated, where the data available is sparse which impedes our knowledge to understand the role of SO in the climatic variablities. Availability of long term data from this area is imperative for understanding the various processes affecting the climate so as to evolve suitable mitigating measures, the NCAOR said.