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Scientist: Ice Melting More Quickly in Arctic

Chinese scientists have discovered that ice in the Arctic area is melting at accelerating speed, which might have a greater impact on the global weather pattern than ever anticipated.

The conclusion was reached by scientists involved in China's second scientific expedition which returned to Shanghai on Sept. 26 after a 74-day exploration in the Arctic.

The thickness of the ice layer in the Arctic is now roughly at 2.75 meters, a significant decrease from 4.88 meters in the 1980s, said Dr. Zhang Zhanhai, leader of the expedition and director with the Shanghai-based China Polar Research Center.

Statistics indicate that as of September 2002, the ice layer in the Arctic shrank to approximately 5.18 million square kilometers, around 1.03 million fewer than in the 1980s.

Scientists have also found that the ice layer is usually about two meters thick at the areas around 80 degrees north latitude in the Canadian basin. In the areas south of 78 degrees north latitude, scientists could barely find the old ice layer, which is normally thicker than three meters.

Chinese specialists will carry out further analyses on the data and information obtained in the expedition and keep an eye on the situations in the Arctic, said Zhang.

Previous research has proven that Arctic ice layer changes influence the weather in China, including the temperature and rainfall in the Yangtze River basin during the rainy seasons.

(Xinhua News Agency October 4, 2003)

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