Chinese scientists are planning to install a wireless sensor
network in the South Pole that will enable them to monitor
Antarctic glacier changes with a click of mouse from Beijing, polar
researchers said on Thursday.
The network will be installed during China's 24th Antarctic
expedition scheduled for October, said Dr. Cheng Xiao, a remote
sensing specialist of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Cheng and 16 other potential Antarctic explorers are currently
receiving a two-week field training program in Tibet that will
equip them with survival skills on high altitudes.
He said the planned network consists of many single chip devices
that will collect data from the Dome-A, 4,093 meters above the sea
level and the highest point on the continent.
"These white boxes, about the size of cell phones, also process
and transmit data so that we can receive them from our offices in
Beijing," he said.
The research program is aimed at a continuous, and more
reliable, measurement of the Antarctic glacial changes.
Satellite remote sensing technologies have helped scientists
create high-resolution maps of Antarctica, measure movements of the
icecap, and track the melting of ice and snow on its surface.
"But the satellite data are still not reliable enough without
evidences from the ground, which are difficult to get given the
tough Antarctic environment for human and machines," said
Altogether 219 explorers are expected to join the forthcoming
Antarctic expedition to conduct 37 scientific research projects and
10 logistic renovation projects.
One of their missions is to fix the site of China's third
scientific research station at the South Pole, a planned
observatory at Dome-A, probably the best location for astronomical
observations on the continent, said Zhu Zhenxi, an astronomer.
He said the station will be equipped with seven telescopes, one
acoustic radar, two devices that monitor atmosphere movements and
four interswitchable dynamos.
Scientists will also erect a 30-meter tall automatic
meteorological recorder on the Dome-A, said Zhu.
Construction of the new station is part of the country's
contribution to International Polar Year (IPY) 2007/2008 which runs
from March 1, 2007, to March 1, 2008.
The observatory will be used for scientific research in summer
but will eventually be developed into a permanent station capable
of accommodating scientific research all year round, said E
Dongchen, director of the Chinese Antarctic Center of Surveying and
China has built two permanent exploration stations named
Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan.
(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2007)