India enjoys ‘Observer’ status in the Arctic Council since 2013 with 12 other countries

Sharing its vision and long-term plans for the Arctic, India has said it will continue to play a positive role in deepening shared understanding of the region through observation, research, and capacity building.

Sharing India's plans for research and cooperation in the Arctic region with the stakeholders, Union Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan on Saturday also spoke about promoting sustainable development of the region through international cooperation.

He was addressing the two-day 3rd Arctic Science Ministerial (ASM3) - the global platform for discussing research and cooperation in the Arctic region - which began on Saturday.

India also shared its plans to contribute observing systems in the Arctic, both in-situ and by remote sensing.

The country will deploy open ocean mooring in the Arctic for long-term monitoring of upper ocean variables and marine meteorological parameters.

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the launch of NISER (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite mission in collaboration with the USA, which is underway, is significant in this context.

NISER aims to conduct global measurements of the cause and consequences of land surface changes using advanced radar imaging.

It added that India’s contributions to the Sustained Arctic Observational Network (SAON) would continue.

India enjoys ‘Observer’ status in the Arctic Council since 2013 with 12 other countries (Japan, China, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Spain, Netherlands, Singapore, and South Korea).

The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum to promote cooperation, coordination, and interaction towards sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. As part of the Arctic Council, India contributes to the international deliberations to develop effective cooperative partnerships towards a safe, stable, and secure Arctic.

The first two meetings—ASM1 and ASM2—were held in the USA in 2016 and Germany in 2018. ASM3, jointly organised by Iceland and Japan, is the first Ministerial meeting being held in Asia.

The meeting is designed to provide opportunities to various stakeholders, including academia, indigenous communities, governments and policymakers, to enhance collective understanding of the Arctic region, emphasize and engage in constant monitoring, and strengthen observations.

The theme for this year is ‘Knowledge for a Sustainable Arctic’.

Arctic warming and its ice melt are global concerns as they play a pivotal role in regulating climate, sea levels, and maintaining biodiversity. Moreover, there is growing evidence of connection between the Arctic and the Indian Ocean (which modulates the Indian monsoon).

Hence, improving the understanding of physical processes and quantifying the impact of Arctic ice melt on the Indian summer monsoon is very important.

India’s engagement with the Arctic dates back to 1920 with the signing of the Svalbard Treaty in Paris. Since July 2008, India has a permanent research station in the Arctic called Himadari at NyAlesund, Svalbard Area in Norway. It has also deployed a multi-sensor moored observatory called IndARC in the Kongsfjorden fjord since July 2014.

The research in the Arctic region from India is coordinated, conducted, and promoted by the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the release explained.