Indian Ocean to face disproportionate effects of climate change: NIO director
NIO director Sunil Kumar Singh asked researchers to help the country exploit resources available in the ocean, especially rare earths
PANAJI: The Indian Ocean will face disproportionate effects of a warming planet as compared to other oceans, which in turn will have a huge impact on the subcontinent, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) director Sunil Kumar Singh, said on Thursday.
“The geographical location of the Indian Ocean is such that it plays a huge role in climate change. If you talk about the sea surface temperature increasing across the world, the tropical Indian Ocean has seen an increase of 1.1°C, but across the globe, the sea surface temperature of the ocean has increased only 0.7°C. It is higher in the tropical Indian Ocean,” Singh said at Samudra Manthan 23, the first scholars’ meet at the country’s premier oceanographic research institute.
“Our economy is very dependent on agriculture and agriculture dependent on rainfall. The monsoon is controlled by the ocean, but because we are now finding that in the northern Indian Ocean, almost everywhere we have a lot of intermediate water with low oxygen,” he added.
Singh asked the researchers to help the country exploit the resources available in the ocean, especially rare earths.
“When we are trying to go towards the exploitation of renewable energy, I think we also have to think in terms of storing this energy. Batteries require a lot of critical metals -- cobalt, lithium -- where are these metals going to come from? Barring a few small reservoirs onshore on continental India, we don’t have a reservoir of these elements, whereas we have a huge reservoir sitting in the ocean. I think it is very required to approach those critical metals, of course in a sustainable manner from the ocean,” he said.
Singh said the institute has estimated that there are 105 million metric tonnes of manganese, copper, cobalt, nickel and other rare earths. “In addition to that, we have a cobalt crust, we have metal sulphides in the hydrothermal region, where a lot of work is going on,” he said.
“Dissolved metals are much higher than land reserves. Almost 9 billion metric tonnes are there in the dissolved form which is waiting to be exploited,” he said.
“Our dependence should not be on other countries as it has with petroleum, where we are depending on other countries and huge reserves of foreign exchange going to those countries. When we shift towards renewable energy, these metals will be required and I think we should not depend on others,” he added.
CSIR-NIO is organising Samudra Manthan 23, the first National Oceanography Scholars Meet from September 28 to 30. The workshop aims to bring together all research scholars, post-doctoral fellows, and students working on oceanography for discussions.
“This meeting marks a watershed moment in oceanography, bringing together scientists, intellectuals, and students across India to dive deep into the mysteries of our vast and complex seas,” the institute said in a statement.