Collaboration with National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research
Since 2013 School of Environmental Sciences at Mahatma Gandhi University has been associating with the National Center for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) to carry out research in the Arctic region. Himadri, India’s arctic research station, is situated at the international research station is situated at Nyalesund, which is located on a small island in the Svalbard archipelago.
All the faculties are actively involved in Arctic environmental research. Dr. Mahesh Mohan has participated 4 times in the Arctic Expedition since 2013 and he was the team leader in the year 2014. As of today,9 research scholars of the department (Gopikrishnan V.G., Bineesh M.B., Abdul Shukkur, Kannan V.M., Joice K. Joseph, John Richard Thomas, ArunBabu V, Praveen Kumar C S, Nejumal K K) has taken part in the Arctic expedition and conducted various experiments at the Indian research station Himadri. Dr. C.T. Aravindakumar, Professor of this school, was a member of the committee responsible for evaluating and selecting the projects and team members for the Arctic expedition.
The research programme involved the environmental monitoring of the Kongs fjord and Kross fjords, microbes and climate change in the arctic region. One of the major thrust areas of the research programme is mercury geochemistry in the Arctic region. Mercury, a transboundary pollutant, has paved its way even to the poles. The biogeochemical cycle of mercury is highly complex and studies relating to the fate and transport of mercury in the area are quite less. Apart from this, the school has now actively involved in the monitoring of emerging pollutants like microplastics, POPs etc. in this pristine ecosystem and has plans to expand its research into other relevant areas.
School of Environmental Sciences started participating in the Indian Arctic Expedition program of ESSO-National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences in 2013 through a project titled “Mercury Geochemistry in the Sediments of Kongsfjorden, Ny-Alesund, Arctic” (PI: Dr. Mahesh Mohan).This project was an interuniversity collaborative program as the Co-PI is from University of Kerala (Dr. Sajinkumar KS, Department of Geology). The project was completed with two expeditions (2013-14 and 2014-15).
After these initial two Arctic Expeditions, ESSO-NCAOR has identified School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University as a collaboratorand Dr. Mahesh Mohan was invited for a Group discussion on future programmes during18thNovember, 2014. The brainstorming discussions resulted in a Science plan for Arctic Environmental Research titled “Dynamics and Functioning of Arctic fjords: Regional and Global Perspectives”. We were also selected as one of the partners of the programme titled “Long – Term Monitoring of Kongsfjorden System of Arctic region for climate change studies” under this Science Plan. Dr. Mahesh Mohan has been entrusted for the Water and sediment chemistry part of the programme and he was the Team Leader for the July Batch.
In continuation with this, the School has proposed a new joint programme titled “Long Term Environmental Monitoring of Fjord Ecosystems, Ny-Ålesund”for 2016-17 expedition and has been approved by the Expert Committee.
This project is continued for the year 2017-18also.The members participated in this expedition are
Besides these expedition programmes, School of Environmental Sciences has actively participated in the Polar (Arctic and Antarctic) Environmental Research expert committees. Dr. CT Aravindakumar was an expert member of Arctic selection committee – 2015 and Antarctic Selection Committee – 2016. He was also selected as Group leader in Environmental Science, Polar science policy deduction for Ministry of Earth Science, 2016.
The linkage between School of Environmental Sciences and ESSO-NCAOR has helped Mahatma Gandhi University to excel in the Polar Research. Both faculty and students (6 nos.) has got opportunity to participate in Arctic Expeditions. In addition, three of our Master’s Students completed their MSc. project work in NCAOR Goa in polar science.