Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pakistan Conducting Research in Antarctica

Pakistan's National Institute of Oceanography, based in Karachi, is operating a summer-only Jinnah Arctic Station in Antarctica first established in 1991 when Pakistan Navy hoisted the Pakistani flag there. The Jinnah Station was formally commissioned on Friday the 25th January, 1991 and the scientific observations commenced. According to Waponline, the Jinnah Station consists of three laboratories in pre-fabricated huts, three pre-fabricated Igloos manufactured in Pakistan for accommodation of 9 persons and four tents for miscellaneous needs. It also includes a sophisticated unmanned weather station from which weather data is now being received in Pakistan via satellite .This makes Pakistan the first among the Muslim nations and the second nation in South Asia (after India) to be poised for full membership of the Antarctic Treaty System. Establishing research presence in Antarctica is seen as important by nations of the world because of its value in understanding global climate change and its potential for tremendous resources including oil and other mineral deposits. It is also important for Pakistan because India is alleged to have trained its soldiers there for occupation of Siachen in Kashmir. This allegation, if true, would be a violation of the treaty prohibiting military use of the continent. The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 sets aside the entire continent for peaceful scientific use only.
Here's the mission statement of NIO Pakistan:
The National Institute of Oceanography is located in Karachi. It was established in 1981 by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of Pakistan. The main area of research of the Institute is the north Arabian Sea and beyond. The oceanic and atmospheric processes of the north Arabian Sea modify our climate, offer numerous living and non-living resources, Oceanographic research brings together all the scientific disciplines needed to study the ocean.“
To learn more about various Antarctic stations set up by different nations of the world, please visit here.
Click here to see the world map highlighting nations with bases in Antarctica.

Acknowledgment: The inspiration for this post came from a post on Moin Ansari's blog.

13 comments:

Arshad Wali Mohammad said...

This is surprising

Riaz Haq said...

Here are a few excerpts from a piece by Prof William Easterly published in Foreign Policy Magazine:

"We found that there was a remarkably strong association between countries with the most advanced technology in 1500 and countries with the highest per capita income today. Europe already had steel, printed books, and oceangoing ships then, while large parts of Africa did not yet have writing or the wheel. Britain had all 24 of our sample technologies in 1500. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga had none of them. But technology also travels. North America, Australia, and New Zealand had among the world's most backward technology in 1500; today, they are among the wealthiest regions on Earth, reflecting the principle that it's the people who matter, not the places. As migration has transformed parts of the world that were nearly empty in the Middle Ages, technology has migrated with them. "

"OF COURSE, IN SOCIAL SCIENCE, no generalization is universal. The most important counterexample is China, which in 1500 had plow cultivation, printing, paper, books, firearms, the compass, iron, and steel, and yet failed to emulate Europe's Industrial Revolution in the centuries that followed. Scholars have argued that autocratic Chinese emperors killed off technological progress for domestic political reasons. For example, one Ming emperor banned long-distance oceanic exploration for fear of foreign influence threatening his power, after Chinese ships had already reached East Africa in 1422."

"This gives us a hint as to how political formation affects development: Fragmented Europe did not have any one autocrat who could kill off technological innovation, and the constant threats of living in a hostile neighborhood spurred the advancement of military technology. And because borders were relatively open around 1500, the reality that citizens could leave for more advanced places -- the forerunner of today's "brain drain" -- kept alive the spirit of innovation. "

"Most importantly, what the history of technology tells us is that the blank-slate theory is a myth. Top-down development programs simply don't work. In fact, the principal beneficiaries of Western largesse today -- African autocrats and dysfunctional regimes -- are themselves the main obstacles to development. If there's anything that "must be done" to spur future development, it's to create the conditions necessary to empower the ordinary individuals who will create new and unforeseen technologies out of old ones. There's a Thomas Edison born every minute. We just have to help them turn the lights on."

Riaz Haq said...

The head of India's National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Rasik Ravindra, will lead a team of eight scientists on the journey, departing next week from an Indian research base, according to the BBC.

The trip to the pole and back is expected to last around 40 days.

It is hoped their mission will shed light on how environmental conditions have changed in Antarctica over the past 1,000 years.

Mr Ravindra says the scientists will fly via South Africa to India's Maitri research base, situated in an ice-free area known as the Schirmacher Oasis.

From there they will travel to the pole - a journey of more than 2,000km - in specially designed vehicles, carrying out a range of experiments on the way.

"We will conduct meteorological experiments, [and] record humidity, temperatures, wind speed and atmospheric pressures during the 20-day trip to the South Pole, and other experiments will be conducted on our way back," Mr Ravindra said.

"Everything is now linked to global warming," he added.

Other experiments will look at the movement of tectonic plates and how the Antarctic landmass has evolved over millions of years.

Correspondents say India is keen to draw international attention to its scientific presence in the region, and is building its third Antarctic research station. The first was abandoned in 1990.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan is one of six countries invited to join UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) as a permanent member. The other 5 Invitees are Belarus, Finland, the Republic of Korea, Spain and Ukraine.

The committee now consists of 26 permanent members, including
.Argentina
•Australia
•Belgium
•Brazil
•Canada
•China
•Egypt
•France
•Germany
•India
Indonesia
•Japan
•Mexico
•Peru
•Poland
•Russia
•Slovakia
•Sudan
•Sweden
•UK
•USA

http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/LTD/N11/582/28/PDF/N1158228.pdf?OpenElement

Riaz Haq said...

Though the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has made enormous efforts to promote research work, Pakistan ranked 43rd in the world in terms of published scientific papers in the year 2010, according to Dawn newspaper.

According to the worldwide scientific journal ranking (SJR); Pakistan published 6,987 research documents in 2010. However, the same year United States was on top with 502,804 papers followed by China with 320,800 and United Kingdom with 139,683 research documents. On the other hand, India ranked ninth worldwide.

Among the Islamic countries, Pakistan trailed behind Turkey and Iran which published 30,594 and 27,510 research documents, respectively.

An official of the HEC requesting not to be named told this reporter that in 2007 Pakistan ranked 45th with 3,750 publications, in 2003 it was ranked 50th with 1,539 research papers and in 2000 54th with 1,174 papers. In 1996, the country was on 52nd position with 893 research papers.

The number of publications is directly proportional to the production of PhDs in the country.

“Pakistan gets over $10 billion every year through foreign remittances. On the other hand, due to financial crunch demand for foreign labour has been decreasing worldwide. Even in Saudi Arabia it has been decided to push out foreign labour force and adjust the locals in their places, because it is becoming difficult even for the oil-producing countries to address the problem of unemployment.”

The official claimed that in the West, population was decreasing and the new generation was more interested in the subjects of art and humanities rather than science, mathematics and research work.

Due to this, the official added, the demand for specialised persons would increase in the West and Pakistan can meet the requirement of these nations by producing specialised persons and earn huge foreign exchange.

Sources said most of the successive governments in Pakistan did not take future planning seriously and always tried to solve problems by makeshift arrangements. The government should focus on specialisation in different subjects because only specialised persons can earn foreign exchange to steer out the country from the financial problems.

Executive Director HEC Prof Dr S. Sohail H. Naqvi told Dawn that they had been trying to generate as many specialised persons as possible and for that reason were encouraging and facilitating universities. He said for increasing the number of PhDs, the commission required funds. “Hopefully, Pakistan will further improve its ranking regarding publication of
research papers,” he said.


http://www.dawn.com/2011/12/26/pakistan-ranks-43rd-in-scientific-research-publication.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a SciDev report on Pakistan's Human Genome Project undertaken with Chinese collaboration at the University of Karachi:

A burgeoning genetics research collaboration between China and Pakistan has yielded its first result: the mapping of the genome of a Pakistani national.

The Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) and the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi, had agreed last year to work together on seven genomic projects, train Pakistani scientists, set up a genomics centre in Pakistan, and transfer state-of-the-art technology to Pakistan.

The first project involved sending genetic samples of the first volunteer, former science minister Atta-ur-Rahman, who is also ICCBS patron, to the BGI for mapping.

'Genome mapping' involves locating and identifying genes to create a map, akin to identifying towns and cities, to create a road map. Genome maps help scientists locate genes for human diseases, by tracking the complete genetic information of individuals and, families over generations.

Researchers at the Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research (PCMD), under the ICCBS, and BGI mapped Rahman’s genes in 10 months. ICCBS director Mohammad Iqbal Choudhary announced the results to the media last month (27 June). The results are yet to be published in a scientific journal.

This makes Pakistan the world's sixth and the first Islamic country to completely map a human genetic sequence, Choudhary said.

More projects are underway to gain insights into various population groups in Pakistan; genetic predisposition to disorders, including liver and heart disease; anaemia, diabetes, cancers, Alzheimer's disease and blood disorders, Choudhary told SciDev.Net.

It could lead to "significant advances in their diagnosis and treatment" Kamran Azim, assistant professor at the PCMD, said.

"It is going to take more than two years to complete the genome projects and come up with the final conclusions about different aspects of the country's different population groups," Choudhary said.

BGI scientists are interested in studying the genetic structure and physiology of Pakistan's diverse ethnic groups, particularly those along the Makran coast, Balochistan province, and Kalash Desh in northern Pakistan, Choudhary said.

Manzoor Hussain Soomro, chairman of the Pakistan Science Foundation, observed that the development could pave the way for better medical management and new drugs discovery.

But, he cautioned, such research could also raise ethical, legal and social concerns over confidentiality and misuse of genetic information by prospective employers, insurers, courts of law and family members.

Soomro said that though it is not yet clear who would safeguard the genome mapping data, it should logically be the responsibility of Pakistan's national bioethics committee under the Pakistan Council of Medical Research.


http://www.scidev.net/en/news/china-aids-first-pakistani-genome-map-1.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ANI report on gene mapping in Pakistan:

Karachi, June 28(ANI): Scientists at the Karachi University have mapped the genome of the first Pakistani man with the help of the Beijing Genomics Institute.

This has made Pakistan the first country in the Muslim world to map the genome of the first Muslim man.

The achievement places Pakistan in the ranks of the few countries- the United States, the United Kingdom, India, China and Japan- that have successfully sequenced the human genome as well.

"Our nation is a mix of a lot of races," said Professor Dr M Iqbal Choudhary, who heads the project. "Pakistanis are like a "melting pot" i.e. a mix of Mughals, Turks, Pashtuns, Afghans, Arabs, etc."

"According to the researchers, the newly sequenced Pakistani genome has uncovered a multitude of Pakistan-specific sites, which can now be used in the design of large-scale studies that are better suited for the Pakistani population," The Express Tribune quoted Dr Choudhary, who is the director of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences at Karachi University, as saying.

The first Pakistani genome has been mapped using a recently developed technology, ten years after the first human genome was discovered.

Dr Panjwani Centre for Molecular Medicine and Drug Research at the University of Karachi took 10 months to accomplish the task. The individual who has been genetically mapped is a resident of Karachi. (ANI)


http://in.news.yahoo.com/pakistan-becomes-first-islamic-country-map-genome-first-111639389.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a report in The News on Pakistan's growing life sciences and biotech sectors:

Pakistan is a growing market for life sciences and biotechnologies, and a country where they, as well as public health research and related fields, have great potentials for beneficial social, economic and health impacts. Multilateral cooperation of Pakistan with international partners such as European Union (EU) could significantly increase the footprint of this impact.

These views were expressed by Professor Maurizio Martellini, Secretary General of the Landau Network-Centro Volta and Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Insubria (Como, Italy), at an in-house talk, organised by the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) on the subject titled ‘Conceptualizing a future cooperation with Pakistan in Bio and Health sectors’.
------------
Elaborating the prospects of cooperation, Prof. Maurizio took stock of Pakistan’s biotechnology and medical industry and said that research in academia is rapidly developing; publications by Pakistani research teams rose to four-folds in the last decade, and the majority of publications from major universities come from the life sciences.

He said that university departments in Pakistan dealing with life science research amount to over 200, with increasing numbers in general and particularly in the biotechnologies and applied science sectors. He was of the view that Pakistan’s biotechnology industry seems also to have been a priority for the government support and in 2010 the country boasted its first biotech plant.
-------
Outlining his vision for cooperation, Prof Maurizio said that cooperation projects which are sustainable in both policy and financial terms should increase the S&T exchanges, favour socio-economical impacts of scientific and technological improvements, and implement improved safety and security good practices and standards, all with medium- and long-term strategies and objectives.

Dr Maria Sultan, Director General SASSI, in her remarks stated that the Pakistan will welcome the cooperation in the bio-safety and security field, however, it requires more broad-based understanding of global concerns and Pakistan’s requirements in this field. Highlighting issues of importance from the Pakistani side she said there is a need to develop a national framework which would encompass the entire scale of pathogens as well as possible gaps in the bio-safety and security area and development of a community of bio-safety in Pakistan for more societal awareness about the issue as well as to include all stakeholders especially the factors which are linked to the bio-economy in Pakistan. She said that the emphasis of cooperation should balance between research and development (R &D) sector in high-tech bio-sciences and bio-safety aspects for disease eradication and epidemic eradication programmes and capacity building in surveillance and equipment for the bio-security and safety mechanism in the country and the international collaborative programmes. She said Pakistani bio-engagement programmes if they are to be run have to rest on the policy of transparency and sustainability aimed at developing bio-economy in Pakistan and the region. Subsequent sanctions on its bio-technology sector could in the future retard or restrict the Pakistan’s capacity to fully utilise its immense potential. The international community should take this matter in account as well, she said.....


http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=94991&Cat=6

Riaz Haq said...

Details of latest supercomputer at NUST in Pakistan by HPC Wire:

Following India’s announcement of installing that country’s fastest supercomputer, news out of Islamabad reports that Pakistan has just unveiled its speediest super as well.

The system will reside at the Research Center for Modeling and Simulation (RCMS), which was acquired by Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) through a grant provided by the country’s Ministry of Science and technology. An inauguration event was held where RCMS Principal, Sikandar Hayat noted that the new system is the fastest GPU-based parallel computer in the country.

The system, known as ScREC, is named after the university’s supercomputing research and education center. The cluster consists of 66 nodes equipped with a total of 30,992 cores. The NUST site breaks down the components as follows: 32 dual-socket quad-core nodes, 32 NVIDIA GPUs, a QDR InfiniBand interconnect, and 26.1 TB of storage. Specifics on the CPU or GPU parts were not provided.

While Linpack performance has not been posted, the system runs at a peak of 132 teraflops. Given that most GPU-accelerated TOP500 systems only achieve about a 50 percent Linpack yield of peak performance (depending upon the CPU-GPU ratio and interconnect), the system should deliver at least 60 Linpack teraflops. That would place the system in the current list, giving Pakistan a slot in the TOP500. Unfortunately the rankings are a moving target, and the June update may well exclude sub-60-teraflop machines. The slowest supercomputer on the current TOP500 is at 51 teraflops.

ScREC will be used to assist NUST with research in the areas of computational biology, computational fluid dynamics, image processing, cryptography, medical imaging, geosciences, computational finance, and climate modeling. Specifically, RCMS is currently developing a direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method for subsonic nanoscale gas flows. Other projects include external flow analysis of heavy vehicles to reduce fuel consumption, and numerical investigation on performance and stability of axial compressors used in aircraft engines and gas turbines.

In a welcome address, Rector Nust Engr Muhammad Asghar said, “This will give an impetus for collaborative research between universities and other research organizations within the country and abroad.” and explained that the new facility will inspire scholars studying abroad to return to Pakistan.

Takeaway

Pakistan’s investment in terascale computing exhibits a willingness to promote scientific research – a forward-leaning strategy for a developing nation on the cusp of becoming industrialized. Unlike India’s HPC plans, Pakistan is not attempting to join the ‘supercomputing elite’ here, but rather to promote science collaborations, while creating an incentive for Pakistani researchers and engineers who work abroad to return to the country.


http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2012-03-07/pakistan_deploys_132-teraflop_supercomputer.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Guardian report on glaciers in Karakoram range in Pakistan:

The glaciers flowing between the towering peaks of the Karakoram range on the Pakistan-China border have grown in size in the last decade, according to new research.

The impact of climate change on the ice in the greater Himalaya range has been controversial because of an unfounded claim by the United Nations' climate science panel over the rate of melting in the region. However the melting of vast volumes of ice into the sea in most other parts of the world has been clearly demonstrated. In March, scientists showed that far less ice was being lost across the Himalayas than had been estimated from sparse ground surveys on the remote slopes.

The new study shows that glaciers in one important part of the mountain range are growing. "We provide a detailed glacier-scale evaluation of mass changes in the central Karakoram," said Julie Gardelle, at CNRS-Université Grenoble, who led the research published in Nature Geoscience on Sunday. "In our warming world, there are regions of the Earth where, for a few years or decades, the atmosphere is not warming or is even cooling. So it is not really a big surprise that there are some regions where the temperature is not rising and the Karakoram may be one of those."

The scientists used 3D altitude maps obtained from satellites in 2000 and 2008 to track the changes in the glaciers. Prof Graham Cogley, of Trent University in Canada, who was not part of the research team, called the approach a "ground-breaking" advance.
------------
Prof Jonathan Bamber, at the University of Bristol, said Gardelle's research was consistent with global gravity work. But he cautioned: "Nine years is a very short period to draw strong conclusions about trends in glaciers. If you are looking for a climate effect - as opposed to a weather effect - you usually take a 30-year period as a minimum, on the assumption that this averages out the interannual variability."

Cogley emphasised that, despite the relatively ice small growth seen the Karakoram, global glacier and ice cap melting is continuing and contributing to rising sea levels. "The world exhibits enormous variety, but that doesn't mean we cannot make valuable generalisations about how it is changing," he said.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/15/karakoram-glaciers-grown-research

Riaz Haq said...

Many governments reject Antarctica's status quo, built on European endeavour and entrenched by Cold War geopolitics that, some say, give undue influence to the superpowers of the past.
Iran has said it intends to build in Antarctica, Turkey too. India has a long history of Antarctic involvement and Pakistan has approved Antarctic expansion - all in the name of scientific cooperation.
But the status quo depends on self-regulation. The Antarctic Treaty has no teeth. Faced with intensifying competition over abundant natural resources and unforeseen intelligence-gathering opportunities, all it can do - like my penguin - is squawk, and patter off into the snow.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27910375

Riaz Haq said...

HOBART, Tasmania — Few places seem out of reach for China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has traveled from European capitals to obscure Pacific and Caribbean islands in pursuit of his nation’s strategic interests.

So perhaps it was not surprising when he turned up last fall in this city on the edge of the Southern Ocean to put down a long-distance marker in another faraway region, Antarctica, 2,000 miles south of this Australian port.

Standing on the deck of an icebreaker that ferries Chinese scientists from this last stop before the frozen continent, Mr. Xi pledged that China would continue to expand in one of the few places on earth that remain unexploited by humans.

Continue reading the main story
RELATED COVERAGE

China and Russia Said to Block Creation of Antarctic Marine ReservesOCT. 31, 2014
He signed a five-year accord with the Australian government that allows Chinese vessels and, in the future, aircraft to resupply for fuel and food before heading south. That will help secure easier access to a region that is believed to have vast oil and mineral resources; huge quantities of high-protein sea life; and for times of possible future dire need, fresh water contained in icebergs.

It was not until 1985, about seven decades after Robert Scott and Roald Amundsen raced to the South Pole, that a team representing Beijing hoisted the Chinese flag over the nation’s first Antarctic research base, the Great Wall Station on King George Island.

But now China seems determined to catch up. As it has bolstered spending on Antarctic research, and as the early explorers, especially the United States and Australia, confront stagnant budgets, there is growing concern about its intentions.

China’s operations on the continent — it opened its fourth research station last year, chose a site for a fifth, and is investing in a second icebreaker and new ice-capable planes and helicopters — are already the fastest growing of the 52 signatories to the Antarctic Treaty. That gentlemen’s agreement reached in 1959 bans military activity on the continent and aims to preserve it as one of the world’s last wildernesses; a related pact prohibits mining.

Advertisement

But Mr. Xi’s visit was another sign that China is positioning itself to take advantage of the continent’s resource potential when the treaty expires in 2048 — or in the event that it is ripped up before, Chinese and Australian experts say.

“So far, our research is natural-science based, but we know there is more and more concern about resource security,” said Yang Huigen, director general of the Polar Research Institute of China, who accompanied Mr. Xi last November on his visit to Hobart and stood with him on the icebreaker, Xue Long, or Snow Dragon.

With that in mind, the polar institute recently opened a new division devoted to the study of resources, law, geopolitics and governance in Antarctica and the Arctic, Mr. Yang said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/world/asia/china-pursuing-strategic-interests-builds-presence-in-antarctica.html?_r=0

Ant√°rtida Brasileira said...

Mr. Haq:

First of all, congratulations for your blog. I found it while looking for information on pakistani activities in Antarctica.

I am interested on antarctic geopolitics and have been searching information about Jinnah Station for years, but found a very small amount of updated data. For instance, it is not clear that Jinnah station has been kept open after the years 1991-1993. Besides that, after a lot of researching on the web, all I found was three images of the station.

So, I ask you: does Jinnah Station still exists? If not, when was it last used? Was/is it a seasonal or year-round station? And, if possible, could you send me any more pictures of the facilities? I would be very grateful with an answer of yours.

Greetings from Brazil!