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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Pakistan Scientific Expedition To Antarctica - Landed January 15, 1991 October 28,1991

Antarctica, one and half times the size of United States of America, is the fifth largest continent of the World. A frozen land with a sea of ice, has been getting increasing attention from many nations during the last two decades. Main reason being the prospects of commercial exploiting of its potential resources in two major areas:
(i) One is the living resources that are tremendously large. Its annual yield potential of krill (Red Shrimp) is estimated to be in the order of 100 to 150 million tons which is equivalent to almost one and half times fish catch of the whole world.
(ii) The other attraction is Antarctica\'s oil and gas potential which could be as big as that of Alaska. Its continental shelf appears to be holding very large oil and gas reserves, estimated at 45 million barrels and 115 trillion cubic feet respectively.
In the light of above, Pakistan Government decided to dispatch first Pakistani Expedition to Antarctica on 12th December, 1990.
The major objectives of the Expedition are summarised below:-
- To undertake resource oriented multidisciplinary research and survey in Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Geophysics, Glaciology, Physics and Meteorology in Marine and terrestrial areas of Antarctica.
- To establish a research station at a suitable location in Antarctica, and also to install an automatic weather station from which data could be received in Pakistan via satellite.
The first Scientific Expedition of Pakistan to Antarctica was organised by National Institute of Oceanography of the Ministry of Science and Technology, which left Karachi Port on December 12, 1990 on board a Swedish M/V Columbialand Ship chartered by the Government of Pakistan. The Expedition team landed at Antarctica on January 15, 1991 along Princess Rangnhild Coast and established \'Jinnah Antarctica Research Station,\' named after the Founder of Pakistan. The station was commissioned on Friday the 25th January, 1991. The station is located at 7024 S and 25 E. A modest flag hoisting ceremony was held immediately after which the Expedition members offered zohar prayers and expressed their gratitude to Allah for making this achievement possible. Commander of the Expedition Commodore Wasim Ahmed and the Chief Scientist: Dr. M.M. Rabbani were responsible to undertake this important expedition to Antarctica. The team comprised scientists and personnel from National Institute of Oceanography, Pakistan Navy and the Pakistan Army. The science group included a meteorologist of the Department of Meteorological Services, one Electronic Officer of the Geological Survey of Pakistan and one Chemist of H.E.J. Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi. Also, a producer of Pakistan Television accompanied the Expedition. The Expedition arrived Off Antarctica coast on New years day. Thereafter, it spent fifteen days in carrying out reconnaissance of nearly 1000 miles of Antarctic coast for selection of a suitable Site to establish Pakistan Jinnah Antarctic Research Station. The station site was selected after physical inspection of a number of prospective sites. The Jinnah Station was formally commissioned on Friday the 25th January, 1991 and the scientific observations commenced.
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.
The Pakistan scientific Expedition was equipped in terms of men, means and material to undertake research in the following disciplines
i. Ecology of polar seas and their potential of living resources.
ii. Ice sheet dynamics.
iii. Monitoring of weather conditions.
iv. Detection of trace matter in Ice, Air and Sea and its environmental effect.
v. Geological and Geophysical mapping of the area around Jinnah Station.
With the successful launching of the Expedition, Pakistan has joined the elite group of the nations who run their own Antarctic Research Programme.
(Contributed by: Ministry of Science & Technology, Islamabad)
To mark the landing of Pakistan Scientific Expedition to Antarctica, Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs.7/- denomination on October 28, 1991.