Dr Syed Zahoor Qasim, who successfully led India’s first Antarctic expedition in 1981, has been commemorated for his contributions to the Indian polar programme in a special issue of Polar Science. A peer-reviewed academic journal, Polar Science aims to inform people about polar science, primarily in Asia. It is published by the National Institute of Polar Research in collaboration with Elsevier and is one of the few comprehensive academic journals in the field of polar science.
Dr Syed Zahoor Qasim [Image source]
Dr Qasim was a reputed marine biologist, who extensively worked on the biological oceanography of backwaters of Kerala and atolls of Lakshadweep. During his tenure as the Secretary of the Department of Environment, he led India’s first expedition to Antarctica and followed it with seven more. He has also served as the Director of the National Institute of Oceanography and as a Member of the Planning Commission from 1991 to 1996.
Dr Qasim’s research areas span across estuarine ecology, marine biology, Antarctic research and environmental pollution. With over 200 research papers in these areas published in national and international journals, he has been recognised for his scientific contributions with a Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian honour in India, in 1982, by the Government of India.
Thanks to these efforts, India’s progress in polar science has reached new frontiers. Today, it is operating two research stations in Antarctica—the Maitri Station and Bharati station. Data collected in these stations are used by scientists to understand the effects of ozone and climate change. Besides, India is conducting observation at the research station in Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard archipelago of Norway in the Arctic region.
The special issue, published in December 2018 as Vol. 18, is titled “Recent Advances in Climate Science of Polar Region”. It contains 23 articles authored primarily by the Indian researchers covering polar meteorology to broader subjects related to the polar region, such as environmental change, weather/hydrological observation, palaeoclimatology, geological and glaciological research into sediment on grounds, lake bottoms, and coastal ocean floors.
"I am confident that the commemorative volume will educate and inspire the youth about India's contribution to climate research in the polar region,'' read a message from the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, which was also carried in the special issue.