With hundreds waving goodbye on the dock, an ultra-modern icebreaker left the eastern Shanghai port on Friday morning, marking the start of China's third scientific expedition to the North Pole.
At 10 a.m., the National Bureau of Oceanography (NBO) and Shanghai municipal government held a ceremony to bid farewell to the expedition team with flowers and salutes.
Chen Lianzeng, the NBO deputy director, declared at 10:25 a.m. the start of the expedition.
A group of 110 Chinese scientists and logistics staff were participating in the 75 day research expedition in the icebreaker "Snow Dragon." Another 12 scientists from the United States, Finland, Japan, the Republic of Korea and France were also invited on the journey.
Zhang Haisheng, the expedition's chief scientist, said his team would study the polar region's distinctive maritime resources and air quality, and also do comprehensive research on geological and meteorological conditions with the help of a helicopter, a yacht and an underwater robot.
"An important task of the mission is to observe the effects of the polar ice surface changes upon the climate of our country," said Zhang, also the director of the Hangzhou-based No. 2 Research Institute under the State Oceanic Administration.
China's first North Pole expedition ran from July 1 to Sept. 9, 1999. It collected information on Arctic maritime ecology and atmospheric, geologic and fishing conditions.
During the second voyage in 2003, scientists probed the inter-reactions of the Arctic region and global climate and analyzed the Arctic's influences on Chinese weather.
In 2004, China's northernmost observation station was set up in Norway.
(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2008)