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Scientists to Embark on Arctic Research Expedition
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Chinese scientists are gearing up for a research expedition to the North Pole in mid-July, it was announced yesterday.

The expedition, the largest of its kind launched by China, will last six months and include research into polar meteorology, environmental monitoring and sea ice research.

A team of 21 Chinese scientists will soon leave for the Yellow River Station, the country's first scientific research station in the Arctic. The station was set up last July on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen.

Preliminary research was carried out in areas near the station last year. An overall survey will begin this year, said Yang Huigen, deputy director of the Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China and the scientist leading the expedition.

"China's scientific research needs innovation and should avoid set patterns, otherwise, it will end up imitating others, rather than leading the field," Yang added. He has been to the Arctic four times and to the Antarctic once.

During this year's Arctic trip, Yang will continue his research into the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, that has already won him two national academic prizes.

According to Qu Tanzhou, director of the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Office of the State Oceanic Administration, the National Development and Reform Commission has endorsed an ambitious plan to increase the scope of the country's polar scientific research.

The plan is being backed by 860 million yuan (US$105 million) and work is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

China began its research in the Arctic region in the 1990s. It has to date organized about 20 Antarctic expeditions.

In April, China joined the Ny-Alesund Science Managers Committee, also known as the "United Nations of Arctic studies".

(China Daily June 30, 2005)

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