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This Kerala scientist braves Arctic’s harsh weather to study climate change

Dr Baiju K R in front of Himadri, India's research station in Arctic. Photo By: Dr Baiju K R

Life in the Arctic is extremely challenging, and a young scientist from Kerala is making all Keralites proud by being part of India’s first Winter expedition to the Arctic to do research on global warming, braving extreme weather and harsh conditions. Dr Baiju K R, professor and Dean of the School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, is one among the four Indians who have been in the Arctic for the last 25 days as part of the expedition.

India has selected 16 researchers from different institutes and universities across the country for the first Winter expedition to the Arctic. Dr Baiju was among the fourth batch of four members which reached the Arctic on March 1, 2024, and stationed at the Indian Arctic Station – Himadri till March 26.

Baiju says he was very fortunate to be selected for the expedition from the School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, which has been undertaking several research projects under the Indian Arctic Programme since 2013.

“The School of Environmental Sciences has been working on various environmental monitoring and research programmes in the Arctic. The project was initiated by Dr Mahesh Mohan, the present Director of the School. Prof C T Aravindakumar, the present Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi University, was also a leading scientist in the programme. In fact, the university has established the International Centre for Polar Sciences (ICPS) in collaboration with the National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR), Goa, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India. My selection to the programme was in continuation and recognition of the constant and innovative studies that the School of Environmental Sciences has contributed so far in Arctic research. I feel very proud and thankful to the University for giving me the opportunity,” Baiju told “Open Digest” in a WhatsApp chat from the Arctic.

Himadri the research station of India in Arctic

To reach the Arctic, he and his team members had to first travel to Oslo from India. “From Oslo, we travelled to Longyearbyen, a small coal-mining town on Spitsbergen Island, in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. The town is very famous for its view of the Northern Lights. From Longyearbyen, the team was flown to Ny-Alesund, a small town in Norway, in a 19-seater Dornier 228 aeroplane,” he said.

Sharing his experiences on the harsh weather conditions at the Arctic, Dr. Baiju said, “Life here in Winter is a bit tough. The temperature has gone down to minus 48 Degrees Celsius. It wasn’t easy doing the fieldwork, collecting samples as part of the research.”

He says that more people will be needed to do more research in the Arctic in the coming years to address the growing concerns about climate change. “My experience and my research at the Arctic will definitely pave the way for more students from Kerala to take up research in the Arctic. The poles – Arctic and Antarctic – are strategic points to find answers to many questions regarding the changing climate and its effects. I am happy to share my knowledge with students in Kerala and invite them to come forward to know about the Arctic more,” he added

3 Comments

  1. Dr SR Narahari March 27, 2024

    congratulations

  2. S.b.sannidhi April 6, 2024

    I spoke to regarding cool hoses open didst.
    Presidently we are in Hyderabad.
    Give full details.

  3. S.b.sannidhi April 6, 2024

    Send full details.

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