A professor of the Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) was among the scientists who had the opportunity to stay at India’s bases in Antarctica,Bharati and Maitri, recently.
K. Balakrishna, Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, was part of the 37th Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica along with 40 other scientists from IMD, GSI, IIG, BARC, BSI, ISRO, NCAOR and logistics personnel from the Army, Border Roads Organisation and others, a press release issued by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education stated.
He was the only scientist from a deemed private university to go on the expedition, organised by the National Centre for Antarctica and Ocean Research, a research institute of the Ministry of Earth Sciences and based in Goa.
“The selection procedure was tough as it entailed not only research but also physical fitness, including two weeks of snow acclimatisation at the Mountaineering and Skiing Institute of Indo-Tibetan Border Police at Auli, Uttarakhand. The acclimatisation included mountaineering, trekking across the Himalayan terrain, rock-climbing, etc,” he said. Dr. Balakrishna describes the entire experience as “thrilling” and the trip “the most unforgettable”. “It was a rewarding experience for me both professionally and personally. Although it was tough initially with temperatures below -10 degrees, no nights and frozen food, I acclimatised quickly and got down to my research, which was, obtaining a baseline of the micro-pollutants like pharmaceuticals, personal care products and other naturally occurring metals in the seawater, sea-ice, lakes, sediments and soil of the region.”
He collected over 100 samples at different locations within a radius of 20 km from the Bharati station. The samples are being analysed at Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences laboratory here.
Krishnamurthy Bhat was the co-investigator of the project. The sampling was done by travelling across the region through skidoo (snow scooter) and helicopter.