"Snow Dragon", the carrier for China's third Arctic expedition, will leave Shanghai on Friday as it carries out a mission to observe polar changes and their effects on the country's climate and environment.
The Snow Dragon is now quietly waiting for its 75-day journey to and from the Arctic at Waigaoqiao dock in Shanghai, the base of China's polar research program.
It will carry more than 120 crew members on the mission, said Wang Jianzhong, the ship's captain.
They will conduct comprehensive research on polar geology and weather as well as distinctive animals and plants.
"Xuelong (Snow Dragon) has been upgraded with communication and navigation devices and equipped with the latest automatic controls in the engine room," Wang said."The lab on board has been expanded by 400 square meters."
Apart from the necessities such as food and fuel, the icebreaker will carry 1,040 tons of fresh water and desalination equipment.
"Everything is ready except the 'east wind'," said Wang, citing a Chinese proverb that means all the preparatory work is done.
As the country's only icebreaker for scientific research in the polar region, the Snow Dragon bore the first two Arctic missions.
The first one ran from July 1 to September 9, 1999. It collected information on the Arctic Ocean ecology as well as atmospheric, geologic and fishing conditions.
During the second mission in 2003, Chinese scientists researched the interactions between the Arctic region and the global climate and analyzed the Arctic region's influence on the climate in China. They also set up the country's northernmost temporary observation station.
The third mission will have the largest number of research programs so far, as well as the largest investment, Wang said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 9, 2008)