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Scientific Expedition to Leave for the Arctic

A Chinese scientific expedition will leave for the arctic later this month.

"Setting up a research station in the north polar-region has been an important step in paving the way for our work," said Dr. Yang Huigeng, head of the Artic Research Station and vice director of China's Polar Research Institute.

Since the 1990s, China has engaged in a series of research projects in the artic. They have explored the science of sea, space, atmosphere, climate and biology. Expeditions went to the north polar-region in 1999 and 2003.
The research station is located at 78.55 degrees North and 11.56 degrees East on Norway's Ny Alesund. It is a two-story building with a total area of 500 square meters, including laboratory, office, reading room, lounge, dormitory and storeroom. Regarded as a "natural laboratory" by the scientists, the station was designed to provide for the work and accommodation of 20 to 25 people.

"This time, we'll send nine scientists specializing in the fields of upper atmosphere physics, ecology, glaciers, the environment, physical geography and meteorology. They will carry out comprehensive observation and sampling," said Qin from the polar department of the National Bureau of Oceanography.

Marking a change from the previous expeditions of 1999 and 2003, this time the team will carry out their work of observation and sampling at the research station. The team will stay there for two weeks with an array of scientific equipment including a polar light detector, biological sampling apparatus, a GPS tracking station and an absolute gravity detector. Qin said, "We will face harsh natural conditions, which may mean we will have to revise our original plans. When the station is complete, the scientists will reassess their work according to their research interests and the station's capabilities."

According to the finance and logistics office of the polar department of the National Bureau of Oceanography, Norway's Ny Alesund has all the facilities needed to provide the logistical support needed by the research station. Local Norwegian companies can provide food and medical services. The station comes equipped with domestic appliances, medical facilities, books and even some entertainment items. The Ozark Company is providing clothing and tents.

The team members have all had to brush up on their artic survival skills and knowledge of the north polar-region as part of their training as well as passing fitness tests.

Polar bears will be one of the main dangers. During the last expedition a bear came within a few hundred meters and the scientists had to make a speedy retreat in a helicopter.

"This time we'll make sure the team members know how to protect themselves from polar bears and issue them with the necessary equipment in case they are attacked," said an official from the logistics office.

(China.org.cn by Li Liangdu, March 12, 2004)


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