PUNE: An India Meteorological Department (IMD) scientist from Pune, Ajit Konde Deshmukh, recently returned after a year-long expedition to Antarctica. He was also honoured as ‘Polar man’ for spending the astral winter, which lasts from March 1 to November 30, on the continent.
Speaking to Sakal Times, Deshmukh shared that though the stay was very difficult, the experience of witnessing the ‘Aurora Australis’ or the Southern Lights was a one-of-its-kind.
“The expedition was to the Indian Research Station Bharti in Larsemann Hills, east Antarctica, where the group of Indian scientists carry out their work. The extreme conditions and harsh way of life is challenging, both physically and psychologically. However, the sight of the Southern Lights is mesmerising,” said Deshmukh.
Deshmukh further said that the team of scientists and everyone on board has a specific schedule, which includes exercising to keep fit.
“Antartica witness two seasons, winter from March 1 to November 30 when the sun does not rise and summer from December 1 to February 28 when the sun does not set. These weather conditions get more severe and dangerous to sustain when the post is hit by a blizzard, which is severe snowstorm characterised by strong sustained winds of at least 56 kilometres per hour and lasting for a prolonged period of time - typically three hours or more. Our entire station used to move right from its root,” said Deshmukh.
While talking about the kind of research that is conducted there, Deshmukh said that two IMD scientists were on board to note temperatures and predict the weather on the continent.
“The team also included scientists from Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and oceanographers, who took samples of the ocean. We also did experiments regarding the ozone depletion in that region,” added Deshmukh.
“The scientists at these stations often met and interacted and sought each other’s help during problems, as they all were fighting for survival and everyone had the same aim, to research,” said Deshmukh.
- Ajit Konde Deshmukh said that the scientists’ schedule in Antarctica included physical fitness.
- The scientists lived a time-table where specific time was given for getting up, getting ready, taking observations, lunch and dinner and also recreational activities.
- Following this time-table streamlined their stay.
- He also mentioned that before going on the expedition, various tests and training schedules are conducted to prepare scientists for the rough environment.
- “We are there for a year. No matter what happens, we have to find solutions to problems at hand and only then we can return after a year. This may seem easy but in such conditions, it gets very difficult to sustain,” said Deshmukh.