A 12-man Chinese expedition surmounted the highest icecap peak in Antarctica at 3:16 AM Tuesday, according to the polar expedition office of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).
They are the first humans to reach the peak of Dome A Icecap 4,039 meters above sea level, located at 80:22:00 degrees south latitude and 77:21:11 degrees east longitude.
The team planned to establish an interim scientific observation station at the spot to monitor the climatic environment, measure the depth of the icecap and obtain ice sample from a depth 150 meters to 200 meters below the surface, the SOA said.
The team will also look for the right location for the third Chinese scientific research station at Antarctica, which together with the existing Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan stations will form a regional climatic environment monitoring system, fulfilling China's mission in an international Antarctic research program.
So far, the team has obtained a nearly 100-meter long ice sample from a section some 300 meters below the icecap peak, the first that humans have got at the highest icecap peak in Antarctica and a crucial clue to climatic and environmental changes in this area.
The Chinese scientists have also set up an automatic weather observation system at the peak that may function at minus 90 degree Centigrade. The system, jointly developed by China and Australia, sends out real-time information about local temperature, moisture, solar radiation, wind power and direction, atmospheric pressure and temperature through satellite.
The team is scheduled to withdraw Thursday but leave a commemorative mark formed by 13 empty oil casks and a national flag at the peak.
The Antarctic icecap, the largest continental glacier on the surface of the earth, accounts for 70 percent of the earth's freshwater resources. The icecap has an average thickness of around 2,450 meters and more than 4,000 meters in certain spots.
Climate-induced change in the bulk of the Antarctic glaciers will noticeably affect the sea level. According to scientists worldwide, the Antarctic glaciers can provide high-quality, high fidelity and abundant information for their research into global climatic changes.
(Xinhua News Aency January 18, 2005)