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China Eyes Additional Antarctic Facility
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China will study the possibility of establishing a third research station in Antarctica, Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said yesterday.

He made the remarks in Beijing at the launch ceremony to mark the country's participation in the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007/2008.

"However, whether or not the country will set up a third station still remains uncertain," said Xia Limin, an official in charge of polar affairs at the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

The IPY 2007/2008, which began yesterday and will run until March 1, 2009, marks the first time that China has participated in IPY activities, said Sun Zhihui, head of the SOA.

The IPY 2007-2008, which was launched by the International Council for Science in conjunction with the World Meteorological Organization, is the fourth of its kind since the 1882/1883 seasons, when the first joint polar expedition was organized.

Advancing understanding

This time around, the event will focus on advancing human understanding of how the Earth's polar regions affect global climate systems. It is the largest internationally participated scientific research effort in 50 years.

Chinese scientists have drawn up plans for the upcoming IPY expedition season, including a plan known as PANDA, which was listed as one of the core research missions.

PANDA is a multi-goal research plan that includes deep-ice coring at Dome A, the highest point on the Antarctic ice sheet, and a study of the interactions between ocean-ice and the shelf-ice sheet system from Pridz Bay to Dome A via the Amery Ice Shelf.

The IPY is an international event during which scientists are able to collaborate on large-scale joint projects.

To date, more than 100 countries and international organizations have put forward 1,200 research topics or suggestions for the IPY 2007/2008 polar expedition season.

China has launched 22 Antarctic expeditions since 1984 and built two permanent exploration stations, named Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan, in the region.

China also launched two Arctic expeditions and built the Huanghe (Yellow River) exploration station in the Arctic in July 2004.

(China Daily March 2, 2007)

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