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Arctic Expedition to Venture Forth

A scientific expedition to the Arctic is due to depart from Beijing next week, it was revealed in the nation's capital Monday.

The expedition, sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Founder Co, will investigate the biome and climatic changes on the North American continent within the Arctic Circle, according to Wang Guo, a researcher from the CAS and expedition leader.

He said the area used to accommodate the largest ice sheet on Earth, near the end of the latest Ice Period, which was about 21,000 years ago.

The formation of the ice lowered the sea level by many meters and squeezed the North American continent by hundreds of meters, leading to a drastic loss in the number of species on the continent. As the ice began to thaw 9,000 years ago, the land mass started to rise, having an impact on the regional as well as global climate and environment, which continues today.

Wang said the team will fly to Vancouver in Canada and then head north until reaching the end of the Arctic Ocean.

Team members will collect spores in the air and in the soil en route, to record environmental changes in the region over the past 40,000 years.

"Spores contained in strata of varying ages are very good indicators of environmental variations over time," Wang said.

He expects to make some interesting discoveries after analyzing the samples at the end of the expedition, which is due to wrap up at the end of the month.

(China Daily September 2, 2003)

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