China will start the construction of its first polar expedition base next week in Pudong of Shanghai, the largest metropolis and economic center of the country.
"The polar base will become a platform for conducting polar research, and providing logistics for expedition teams," Pei Fuyu,an official with the Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China, was quoted by the Shanghai Daily as saying.
The first phase of the project will include a permanent dock for the icebreaker Xuelong -- the country's only polar research vessel -- and a polar logistics park, Pei said. The base will be set up in the Wuhaogou area of Pudong near the mouth of the Yangtze River.
The project will mainly be financed by the State Oceanic Administration and its first phase will be completed by 2007, he added.
As the city doesn't currently have a permanent home for Xuelong, the icebreaker has to move between different ports in Pudong when it isn't being used for a research expedition.
The second phase of the project will include a polar training hall, which will allow researchers to prepare for polar expeditions in Shanghai, instead of traveling to northern China, as they currently do, according to the Shanghai Daily.
Once established sometime around 2010, the hall will simulate the real climate conditions in Antarctica, including its extreme temperatures, low atmospheric pressure, powerful hurricanes, and northern lights.
The polar institute's 22nd Antarctic research team will return to Shanghai next week after a four-month expedition.
(Xinhua News Agency March 25, 2006)