KARACHI - Seven universities of six countries, including Pakistan, agreed to hold an online MS programme in the field of climate change. The Karachi University will represent Pakistan while other countries included France, China, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The online degree programme is being launched for the first time in the history of Karachi University. The initiative to launch the said programme was decided in a CLIMA conference held in Venus International University, Italy on October 11, 2008, Prof Dr Shamsuddin, Dean Faculty of Arts at KU, told The Nation on Tuesday. He said that the KU delegation led by Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui attended the conference while Prof Dr Moazzam Ali, Dr Nabeel Ahmed Zuberi, Dr Naveed Tahir, Dr Uzma and Dr Jawed Mustaqeem were also included in the delegation. He said, "Besides Karachi University, Vriji University of Amsterdam, European University Italy and Global Environment, MOST, China were also launching the same degree, adding students from all over the world will be eligible for participating in the programme. It is worth mentioning here that experts and scientists are mainly focusing on the importance of climate change and trying to educate and train more scientists in this field as dramatic changes have been occurring in the Arctic during the past decade. These changes include unusual melting of glaciers, sea ice, permafrost, shifts in patterns of rain and snow fall, freshwater runoff and forest/tundra growth. The consequences include disrupted wildlife migration patterns, altered fish stocks, modified agricultural zones and increased forest fires. He These changes have impacted the lives of native residents who depend on environment for a continuation of their traditional subsistence and lifestyle and may also have significant impacts on the oil industry, tourism and shipping routes. The latest report from the US Arctic Research Commission states that change in the Arctic may play a substantial role in climate change throughout the globe while global change, particularly climate change, may have its most profound effects in the Arctic. Conditions in the Arctic are very different from those at lower latitudes on the globe, and the Arctic remains one of the least explored, studied and understood places on earth, the report said. Under the same programme, studies will be imparted through video conferencing facility. This is pertinent to mention here that Virtual University, set up by Higher Education Commission, and Allama Iqbal Open University are already holding online degree programmes in the country. Prof Shamsuddin added that many aspects of the programme, including criteria for enrolments of students, determination of place for degree awarding and fee structure for the programme remained to be discussed.