Vishnu Nandan Will Be The Only Indian To Join The Largest Ever Arctic Expedition
Aadhya Khatri - Oct 08, 2019
Vishnu Nandan comes from Kerala, and he will be the only Indian among 300 other scientists to conduct the Study of Arctic Climate expedition
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In the course of four months, from November forward, Vishnu Nandan will not see the Sun as he will be on board the Polarstern, a German research vessel, at the Central Arctic, during the dark Polar winter.
The 32-year-old polar researcher comes from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, and he will be the only Indian among 300 other scientists from all over the world to conduct the Study of Arctic Climate expedition (MOSAiC), a journey to help researchers better understand climate change’s impact and improve weather forecast.
Led by German Alfred Wegener Institute, MOSAiC is the largest Arctic expedition ever launched in history. It will be the first research of this scale at the North Pole and will last for the whole year. There have been some previous studies, but they only operate in a short period of time as they could not access in winter due to the thick ice sheets. This time, the research vessel will lock itself on a large ice sheet before winter comes, and then drift along with it. An ideal floe (ice sheet) was found a few days ago.
Dr. Nandan will board a Russian icebreaker ship from Tromso, a Norwegian port in November, and then board the Polarstern when it enters the second leg. In a phone call from the University of Manitoba, Canada, he said that the expedition would measure the geophysical, oceanographic, atmospheric, and other variables and use what it gathers to more accurately predict our weather system's changes. Since his job is a radar remote sensing specialist, he will distribute radar sensors of the ice and measure the thickness of it. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher.
Since he will make the expedition in winter, he will be cut off from sunlight until March. In other expeditions, the research team will have support stations nearby, the duration of the trips is also shorter. In this case, they will be in the middle of nowhere with limited help, surrounded by complete darkness and extremely cold temperature. They will not be able to communicate regularly with the outside world, friends, and family. And the environment will take a heavy toll on their biological clocks.
Vishnu Nandan graduated from the SCT Engineering College, Thiruvananthapuram. However, he then quit his job in the IT sector to study Earth Observation Sciences at ITC, Enshcede, The Netherlands. He then completed MSc there with a gold medal.
He started to be noticed when he authored a study as part of the University of Calgary’s Cryosphere Climate Research Group. His research pointed out the incorrectness of the measurements of sea ice forming in the Arctic each season made by satellites. The study also suggests that scientists may have overestimated the thickness of Arctic sea ice as the result of salts on snow covering sea ice.
Dr. Nandan said that this year was special because it had the lowest extent of sea ice in the last five decades. With the ice cover gets thinner, the Arctic Ocean will be exposed for longer to sunlight. As a result, the temperatures of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans will increase. When the oceans get warmer, the patterns of the global weather will be impacted. The worst scenarios are more severe cyclones, and changes in the monsoon patterns. The data gathered after this expedition will be of great help for the next generation of scientists.