'Set up inland stations'

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015 | 02:50:09 AM

-- Scientists in India often blame lack of data from the South Pole for failure to predict erratic monsoons and extreme weather. Antarctica's atmospheric temperature significantly influences global weather. In 1972, junior researcher from the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad Parmjit Singh Sehra observed unusual winter warming in Antarctica. Had his findings received attention, India's climate predictions would have been sharper, the first Indian scientist to visit the South Pole told Archita Bhatta.

findings: Antarctica's upper atmosphere remained unusually warm during winters, between May and July. It was due to increase in solar radiations.

government's response: The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said in Parliament that my work would be recognized. But it didn't happen. In 2005, a paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society claimed to be the 'First Documented Major Stratospheric Warming over Antarctica'. It did not cite my work. I wrote to the Indian government but it did not react.

current state of antarctic research: India sent its first expedition to the Antarctica in 1981. Scientists are collecting ice core samples, which offer an insight into the history of atmospheric gases, and records of the wind-blown dust, volcanic ash and radioactivity. The scale of atmospheric data required for climate change studies needs inland stations, particularly in the southern continent. Both the Indian stations are on the eastern coast. I have visited inland stations of the US and the then USSR. Temperature of the upper atmosphere in these areas needs to be studied because it influences long-term weather. This is also important because most countries are reluctant to share data related to upper Antarctic atmosphere because of security concerns. I had prepared a feasibility study recommending more stations inland and towards the Southern Ocean. That would have helped us better predict climate changes.

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