27 July : India will begin construction of its third research station in Antarctica in January next and the facility is expected to be up and running within two years.
“The actual construction will begin in January next year when the summer season begins in Antarctica,” Secretary, Earth Sciences, Shailesh Nayak told a news agency.
He said construction of roads and huts for the station at Larsemann Hills region would be taken up during the summer season which lasts for about 90 days.
Scientists believe that Larsemann Hills region broke away from the Indian peninsula about 120 million years ago and drifted to its current place after the break up of the Gondwanaland continent. This makes its study crucial.
Scientists have finalised the conceptual design for their perch in the icy continent which had received a nod from the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) two years back.
The ATCM, formed as per the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, is the final authority on matters related to the icy continent.
The site is located on the ice-free rock stretch of Larsemann Hills, around Prydz Bay. It has moderate climate as compared to Maitri though strong winds blow from east to southeast during summer.
Daytime air temperatures from December to February at times exceed 4 degrees Celsius, with the mean monthly temperature being a little above zero degrees.
This would be the third research base to be set up by India after Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri.
Dakshin Gangotri was set up in 1983 and later abandoned in 1988-89 as it was submerged under ice. The second research base Maitri was thereafter set up in a moderate climatic zone in 1990.
As per the plan, the new research base would have a life span of 25 years and accommodate 25 people during the summer months and 15 during the winter period.
The base would be a self-contained thermally insulated double-storeyed structure on stilts capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions of the region.
While the ground floor will house general facilities like storage, laboratories, the upper floor will be used for accommodation, kitchen, lounge, offices, medical centre and recreation clubs.
Wind turbines and solar panels would be set up to harness renewable sources of energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, officials said.
The construction and operational activity of the research base shall have no more than minor or transitory impact on the Antarctic environment and scientists have proposed suitable mitigation measures to minimise even this.