Sample Materials for CSAT Paper -1 (G.S.) Pre 2013: “Science & Technology: Oceanographic and Antarctic Research”

Materials From Our Study Notes for CSAT Paper -1 (G.S.) Pre 2013

Subject: Science & Technology
Topic: Oceanographic and Antarctic Research

Ques. 1 : Why ocean
research and development is useful for India?

Ans. Oceans constitute nearly 70
percent of the earth’s surface area and contain enormous quantum and variety of
resources – living as well as non-living. A vast majority of these resources
have not been tapped in a significant manner for economic, commercial and other
beneficial uses. With the all round advancements in S&T, this relatively
unexplored territory is now being increasingly explored to have a better
understanding about what it has in store for us and how we can make good use of

India, in particular, has a lot to gain from oceanographic research and
development. India has a long coastline, spreading for more than 7000 km in
length. Its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers an area of about 20 lakh sq.
km. over which it has exclusive rights for exploration and utilisation of all
marine resources. The Indian Peninsula is flanked by three big seas including
the Indian Ocean which has a big influence on the climate of India, among other
things. Thus India has huge stakes in exploring and understanding the oceans and
its resources so that this knowledge and expertise can be used in national
interests by various means.

Ques. 2 : Briefly discuss
the activities of Department of Ocean Development (DoD)?

Ans. Recognising the importance and
potential of oceans in the development and progress of the nation, the
Government of India established the Department of Ocean Development (DoD) in
July 1981 to promote and co-ordinate the multi-dimensional endeavours required
to accomplish the task of developing expertise in ocean science and technology
and its useful applications. DOD was conceived to function as the nodal agency
for planning, organising co-ordinating and promoting ocean development
activities such as –

(a) oceanographic surveys;
(b) development of marine technology and manpower therefore;
(c) exploration, exploitation and management of a wide variety of ocean
(d) protection of marine environment;
(e) coastal area management etc.

Among other things, the DoD was also given
the important function of Antarctic Research.

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Ocean Policy Statement

The Oceans are known to be out last
frontiers. The tong coast and the sense of adventure of our ancients fostered a
great maritime tradition. The Indian Ocean provides numerous opportunities which
have to be utilised. For success in ocean development, the entire nation should
be permeated by the spirit of enterprise and the desire to explore the frontiers
of knowledge. What is needed is a policy and structure to facilitate a dynamic
thrust keeping in view the developments in other parts of the world.

1. India, along with a large number of
countries has adopted the UN Conference on the law of seas. According to this
regime, nearly 2.02 million square kilometres of area shall come under India’s
national jurisdiction. Further, India has been recognised as “Pioneer Investor”
in an area of 1,50,000 sq km of deep seas for the recovery and processing of
polymetallic nodules.

2. The vastness, complexity and
uncertainty of ocean development calls for a co-ordinated, centralised and
highly sophisticated developed response.

3. The living resources have to be mapped,
an inventory of commercially exploitable fauna has to be prepared and the
minerals available in deep sea must be assessed.

4. The main thrust should be optional
utilisation of lowing resources like fish and sea weeds, exploitation of
non-living resources such as hydrocarbous and heavy placer deposits, harnessing
of renewable sources of ocean energy from waves, tidal heights, salinity
gradients and the collection and processing of polymetallic nodules from deep

5. In addition to the development of basic
marine science and technology, technological advances should also be geared to
the utilisation and preservation of the marine environment.

6. The deeper past of ocean has to be
surveyed to locate the rich and economically viable deposits of polymetallic
nodules, heavy metals, fossil placers arid phosphosite deposits.

7. Indigenous technology needs to be
developed for the exploitation of fish from deeper waters.

8. Infrastructural support needs to
appropriately augmented as it forms an essential pre- requisite for ocean

9. The co-ordinating mechanisms of the
overall structure of legislation have to be suitably strengthened under the
aegis of the Department of Ocean Development.

10. A centralised data system has to be
set up to co-ordinate efforts made by different agencies.

11. Skilled man power has to be trained
regularly. Young scientists, technologists and engineers must be encouraged to
participate in programme of ocean development.

Ques. 3 : Discuss in
brief the objectives of India’s Ocean development programme?

Ans. Like most other significant
areas of S&T, India’s ocean development or oceanographic research programme is
application-driven. The underlying theme has been to develop technologies for
cost-effective and sustainable exploitation of marine resources towards
socio-economic development, while keeping in mind the long term national
interests and the need for environmental management. Accordingly, the main
objectives are-

(a) Basic research in Ocean Science and
Technology and understanding the oceanographic parameters.
(b) Exploration and assessment of marine resources – living and non-living of
the exclusive economic zone, of the continental shelf and of the deep sea-bed.

(c) Co-relating the marine resources with oceanographic parameters to evolve
exploration parameters and strategies (e.g. exploration and exploitation of poly
metallic nodules at a depth of 6000 m. will require a different strategy/programme
than at a depth of 2000 m.);
(d) Harnessing, utilising and managing the marine resources like sea-food,
minerals and metals, ocean energy etc.
(e) Development of exploration technologies and infrastructure;
(f) Development of technologies and infrastructure for utilisation of marine
resources e.g. technologies related to sea-bed mining, extractive metallurgy,
ocean energy etc.
(g) Development activities related to integrated coastal and marine area
management, coastal community development, ocean information service etc. with
direct application to the welfare of the society;
(h) Development of ocean research manpower; creation of centres of excellence in
academic institutions and creation of public awareness on the potential and uses
of ocean;
(i) Develop expertise to play our rightful role in marine S&T in the
international; arena, including commercialization of our technical know-how
j) Protection and management of marine and coastal environment.

To achieve these objectives, a number of
programmes and schemes have been operationa-lised and some specialised R&D
institutions have been established by the DOD.

Ocean Development Programmes

The programme and activities undertaken by
the Department of Ocean Development (DOD) follow the main theme of sustainable
and environment friend exploration and utilisation of marine resources – living
and nonliving – for the socio economic benefits of the country. The following
are the major application-oriented programme areas of DOD.

New Schemes

1. Comprehensive Swath Bathymetric Survey
2. Gas hydrate exploration and Technology Development
3. Acquisition of New Research vessels,
4. Geophysical study of Laxmi Basin

Continuing Schemes

1. Polar Science
2. Polymetallic nodule programme
3. Marine Research and Technology Development
4. Coastal Research Vessels
5. Delineation of outer limits of continental shelfs

Comprehensive Swath Bathymetric Survey
of entire Indian EEZ

The area of Indian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is over 2 million sq km
around with various living and non-living resources. This new programme entails
scientific mapping of this area to have an inventory of potential resources and
to identity the causes of hazards. The study would help to develop innovative
concepts on:

  • Submarine fans and their role on
    accumulation of hydrocarbons.
  • Submarine canyons and their role in transport and distribution of pollutants.
  • Tectonics of margins.

The main output of the programme shall be
a comprehensive bathymetric map of EEZ. The entire data shall not be made
available as it will be sensitive from defence point of view. However, the data
in parts shall be made available for commercial purpose likes, for pipeline
laying routes to petroleum and natural gas industry, cable routing for
telecommunication industry etc.

Gas Hydrates Exploration and Technology

Fossils fuels are being consumed at an
increasing rate, thus causing depletion of existing reserves. Around the world,
there is a search for alternate source of energy. Gas hydrates with their
abundant resource potential is emerging as a potential cleaner fuel resource.
Gas hydrates are ice like crystalline accumulations formed mainly from methane
and water. Gas hydrates are stable in permafrost regions and in low temperature
– high presence regimes of the continental margins. According to conservative
fuel resource estimates, worldwide gas hydrate contains more organic carbon
(about 10,000 billion tons) than all other global reserves combined (about 8780
billion tons). The preliminary assessment of geological condition suggests high
possibility of occurrence of large quantity of gas hydrates within the EEZ of

Gas hydrate exploration is a nascent science and various countries are carrying
out R&D activities to develop techniques for detection and quantification or gas

In view of the above, a mission mode programme has been proposed to develop
science and technology in India in respect of exploration of gas hydrate and to
recommend suitable sites for drilling for ground truth validation and subsequent
technology development for harvesting.

Main Objectives

1. Establish geophysical techniques for
detection and quantification of gas hydrates.
2. Undertake investigation to identify promising sites and estimate resource
3. Demonstrate existence of methane hydrate by ground truth sampling/drilling.

4. Develop environmentally safe technology for production and transportation of
gas from gas hydrates in pilot scale.

Acquisition of New Research Vessel

The Department of Ocean Development has
resource exploitation programmes such as exploitation of polymetallic nodules,
under water observation systems and, instrumentation, gas hydrates ete. These
programmes require extensive research vessel facilities and the requirement of
vessels vary depending on the stage of development of technology. It has thus
been proposed to acquire a vessel during the 10th Plan period.

The main objective of the program is:

  • To build a new multipurpose vessel for technology services and demonstration
    to cater to the ongoing and new programmes during the 10th Plan of Department of
    Ocean Development.
  • The programme shall be implemented by the National Institute of Ocean
    Technology, Chennai.

Geophysical Study of the Laxmi Basin

In order to establish conclusively the
nature of basement in the Laxmi Basin as well as in the area to its north and
south, detailed geophysical surveys shall be conducted along the entire west
coast. Steps have been initiated for acquisition and processing of geophysical
data along with activities on interpretation and analysis of data.

(A) Polymetallic Nodules (PMN)

Meaning and Significance

PMN are lumps of minerals or mineral
aggregates found on ocean beds. They contain metals like copper, nickel, cobalt,
zinc, manganese, aluminium etc. Of these, the first three are very important and
in great demand in our country and abroad since these three metals of strategic
needs are fast depleting from the earth (i.e. land). Because of this reason PMN
have become the subject matter of world-wide research and development to explore
and exploit them.

India is entirely dependent on imports to
meet its requirements of cobalt which is the most strategic of the three. As for
copper and nickel, India may be in a precarious position by the year 2015.
Fortunately, PMN containing these three metals are lying scattered on the ocean
floor in the Indian Ocean in abundant quantity.

The Ocean Regime established by the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 while granting India the
exclusive and sovereign rights of extraction of all marine resources in the
Exclusive economic Zone (EEZ) of up to 320 km from India’s coastline, also
stated that the resources of the deep-sea shall be governed by the International
seabed Authority. Accordingly, in 1987, India was allotted a mine site of
1,50,000 sq. km in the Central Indian Ocean. Even before that, right since
1981-82 India had started pioneering R&D work in the area of deep sea
exploration with special emphasis on location and processing of PMN. The
allotment of this site of 1,50,000 sq. km was, in away, a recognition of Indian
R&D efforts in this field. Moreover, India was accorded the status of one of the
four regional pioneer investors (the other three are Russia, France and Japan)
in 1987 pursuant to its efforts and progress in the identification and
assessment of the PMN in the Central Indian Ocean Basin (CIOB). Therefore, this
site is sometimes also referred to as the Pioneer Area. It is estimated to be a
storehouse of approximately 380 million tonnes of PMN containing about 73
million tonnes of manganese, 3 million tonnes each of copper and nickel and 0.5
million tonnes of cobalt. Therefore, India has launched this extremely
challenging and ambitious programme of extracting PMN from the seabed at depth
ranging from four to six km., with a view to exploiting some strategically
important metal for the national good.

Progress Made

The Department of Ocean Development is the
nodal agency responsible for implementing the deep-sea bed-mining programme. It
has drawn up along-term plan to fulfil its obligations as Pioneer Investor as
well as reach the stage for seeking production authorisation as quickly as
possible. The programme has 4 components:
1. Survey and exploitation
2. Environmental Impact Assessment Study
3. Design and Development of deep seabed mining system
4. Extractive metallurgy

The developments have been as under:

(a) Intensive survey is being conducted to
ascertain the extent of resources in the pioneer area. The high precision
bathymetric maps generated by research vessel Sagar Kanya and the baseline
oceanographic data on physical, chemical biological and environmental parameters
are being used for comprehensive geostatical evaluation of resources of PMN and
their distribution in the pioneer area.

(b) Various studies have been initiated to
assess the environmental impact of large scale deep sea bed mining activity with
the assistance of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources. The study reports
shall serve as reference documents in monitoring environmental impact of
long-term mining at the site.

(c) Central Mechanical Engineering
Research Institute, Durgapur has developed in house designed remotely operated
collector unit and a bucket-in-pipe lifting system. The system has been
successfully tested in a shallow basin environment. Efforts are on the improve
the design of the system and for development of other sub-systems.

(d) R&D activities to develop and
standardise extraction processes for large scale production has been undertaken
by National Metallurgical Laboratory (NML Jamshedpur, Regional Research
Laboratory (RRL), Bhubaneshwar and Hindustan Zinc Limited, Udaipur. Technology
developed for process route developed by NML, Jamshedpur shall be used to
develop pilot plants. The R&D activities are monitored by Engineers India
limited, New Delhi. After the completion of R&D phase, activities for
semi-industrial trial phase shall be started. Detailed engineering, procurement,
installation and commissioning of the system shall be undertaken in coming

(B) Ocean Observations and Information
Services (OOIS)

OOIS seeks to understand the role of ocean
and its processes, generate user oriented coastal and ocean data and data
products like waves, winds, temperature etc. for supporting coastal and
off-shore developmental activities and oceanographic research. The programme
consists of 4 major projects:

1. Ocean Observing Systems (OOS):
Systematic Oceanographic observation are important for validation and providing
ocean data products. The OOS programme designed to acquire in-situ surface,
meteorological and oceanographic data on real-time basis from the seas around
India. The parameters being measured under the programme are surface winds,
waves, atmospheric pressure, tempera-ture, salinity etc. The state-of-art
instruments like tide gauges, current meter arrays are being deploy for

2. Satellite Coastal and Oceanographic
Research (SATCORE): This programme envisages development of algorithms, models
and related capability for an operational: retrieval of met-ocean parameters
from satellite sensors. They Will be fine-tuned a converted to user-friendly
software packages for operational use under the OIS.

3. Ocean Modelling and Dynamics: For
utilising the ocean resources in a sustainable way and making the benefits
cost-effective, it is important to understand oceanic processes. Knowledge of
ocean dynamics is a pre-requisite for prediction ocean state based on ocean
models. The programme is designed to generate a wide range at ocean models. The
institutes associated in this endeavour are Centre for Mathematical Modelling
and Computer simulation (C-MMACS), NIO, IIT-Delhi and Cochin University.

4. National Ocean Information System (NOIS):
NOIS seeks to ensure productive and purposeful use of the information generated
by the R&D institutions through a network of data centres. Having to share and
exchange data and information, NOIS has identified .expert R&D institutions
specialising in ocean science and technology and established National Marine
Data centres to accomplish the objectives of collection, collation, validation,
storage and dissemination of data and information.

(C) Marine Research and Technology

This programme involves various
activities like:
(a) Assessment of marine living resources by the centre for Marine Living
Resources and Ecology (CMLRE) the erstwhile Sagar Sampada Cell in Kochi.
(b) Assessment of environmental parameters and Marine living resources in Indian
(c) Resources assessment and biology of Deep Sea fishes in the continental slope
of Indian EEZ.
(d) Conduct studies on Deep Scattering Layers (DSL) within the EEZ of Arabian
Sea and Bay of Bengal on the basis of acoustic recordings.
(e) Conduct investigations to identify the harmful and toxic algal bloom forming
species in the Indian EEZ.
(f) Development of acoustic techniques for Fish and Biomass estimation.
(g) Extraction of drugs and chemicals for medical purposes from marine living

(D) Coastal Research Vessels

The Vessel Management Cell (VMC) manages
two coastal research vessels namely Sagar Purvi and Sagar Paschimi. These ships
were specially designed by National Ship Design and Research Centre (NSDRC).

The research vessels collect samples from
coastal areas for monitoring the pollution levels at different locations. Sagar
Paschimi was used for conducting archaeological survey at Gulf of Cambay
Paschimi also undertook two voyages to Bombay High and monitored the oil
pollution levels around the oil fields of ONGC. Sagar Purvi was deployed for
baseline data collection in and around the nuclear installation at Madras Atomic
Power Station (MAPs) Kalpakkam.

(E) Delineation of Outer Limits of
Continental Shelf

According to the provisions of UNCLOS, the
coastal state that intends to delineate the outer limits of continental shelf
beyond 200 nautical miles, is required to submit particulars of such limits
along with the supporting scientific and technical data. India made its first
partial submission for an extended continental shelf to commission on the Limits
of continental shelf (CLCS) on 16 August 2010. If the claims are accepted by
CLCS India would be in a position to claim substantial area beyond the EEZ.
National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) at Goa is co-ordinating
this national endeavour with active co-operation and participation of all
national Institutions. Antarctic Research

Ques. 4 : What is the
importance of scientific research in the Antarctic?

Ans. Antarctica, a pristine
laboratory of global importance, provides lot of scope for conducting scientific
research that will benefit the whole mankind in the following ways-
i) It enables scientists and researchers to detect and monitor global
environment phenomena such as the depletion of ozone layer, global warming and
sea level changes.
ii) Antarctic meteorological research can supply data vital to weather
forecasting in southern hemisphere.
iii) Glaciological research provides important data about the heat exchange
budget and Antarctica’s influence on the weather.
iv) Geological and geophysical research here provides great insight into global
geological history and the formation of continents.
v) Study of solar-terrestrial interactions and cosmic rays travelling from outer
space can be undertaken here because Earth’s geomagnetic field makes Antarctica
especially well suited to such studies.
vi) The continent’s environment gives unique opportunities to study-

(a) the specialised adaptations of
organisms to their environment;
(b) physiological adaptation of man to extreme climates and isolation;
(c) biological research data concerning marine living resource;
(d) information on human biology and application of medicine;
(e) ice-core samples for meteorological research.

Ques. 5 : What are the
special interest in India’s Antartic research?

Ans. India is since long committed
to scientific research in the continent Apart from the reasons discussed above,
India has its own special interest in Antarctic research for the following

i) The Monsoons have a direct bearing on
the economy of our country. This phenomenon is controlled by numerous parameters
generated over the entire global system. Meteorological data collected over
Antarctica on a decadenal scale by Indian Scientists is being used to develop
more realistic models on monsoon predictions and to understand the dynamics of
the weather system over the Indian Ocean region.

ii) Antarctica provides a singular
platform to monitor ozone depletion. The understanding of the ozone hole
phenomenon, though being a part of a global scientific effort, is of a
significant interest for the Indian Scientists. The hole, which was once
considered static has proved to be dynamic and can have a direct bearing over
the weather patterns over the Indian Ocean region.

iii) Antarctica is a sensitive indicator
of global warming, a phenomenon that requires long term monitoring for devising
a response strategy. Comparative studies on the mass balance of the large
glaciers in Antarctica and the Himalayas, e.g., can provide clues about the
short term climatic fluctuations, sea level rise etc. and their linkage with the
melt/freeze processes controlled by Antarctica and the southern oceans.

iv) The Southern Sea is a major sink of
CO2 from the atmosphere. This contributes to the high productivity of this
watermass which has a effect on the fishery resources. Consequently the stock of
marine organisms like Krill, finfish, squids etc. in the Antarctic water offers
potential food resources. The Indian Ocean sector of the Antarctic waters is
estimated to be a storehouse of a sustainable yield of fisheries which can be a
future source of food.
It is for these reasons that ‘Contribution towards front ranking research in
Polar Sciences’ is one of the stated objectives of the DoD; and regular
‘Antarctic Expeditions’ are part of its most significant programmes. Our
Antarctic Research Expectations seek to identify and initiate programmes of
Scientific and Economic Significance apart from establishing India’s
infrastructure and expertise in the field.

Test Your Knowledge

1. Consider the following statements:

  1. Oceans constitute nearly 80 percent of the earth’s surface
  2. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers an area of
    about 20 lakh

Which of the above statements is / are correct.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 & 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2
2. Consider the following statements.

  1. Department of Ocean Development was establishment in July
  2. DoD was conceived to function as the nodal agency for
    planning, organising, co-ordinating and promoting ocean
    development activities.
  3. DoD was also given the important function of Antartic

Which of the above statements is / are correct.

  1. 1 & 2 only
  2. 2 & 3 only
  3. 1 & 3 only
  4. All of the above


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Answer of Question 1: B

Answer of Question 1: B

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