A pair of students appreciate a polar bird on display in a science museum at the Shanghai-based Polar Research Institute of China on Wednesday, March 28, 2007. The exhibition is part of China's polar-related popular science activities which began on the same day to mark International Polar Year 2007-2008. [Photo: shanghaidaily.com]
Citizens of China have been presented with the chance of a lifetime next year - a trip to the Antarctica or the Arctic with national polar explorers.
Polar research officials announced the initiative in Shanghai on Wednesday.
In about July 2008, local residents will have the opportunity to visit to the icebreaker Xuelong, China's only polar research vessel which is undergoing a facelift to enhance research facilities and living conditions.
International Polar Year 2007-2008 is a global drive for polar recognition, and China is an integral part of the equation.
"We want to let more ordinary people know and understand our polar works," Yang Huigen, deputy director of the city-based Polar Research Institute of China, said Wednesday during an opening ceremony marking the special year.
The institute, on Pudong's Jinqiao Road, is controlled by the Beijing-based State Oceanic Administration.
Yang said the institute plans to select Chinese citizens - artists, students and ordinary residents - to go with the national polar expedition team next year.
It was also announced that the Xuelong will visit ports around China, including Shanghai.
The institute has opened a free permanent polar exhibition in the lobby of its office building.
The show includes more than 50 pictures, some of which have not been displayed before.
A certain attraction will be the specimens of stuffed polar animals, which include varieties of penguins.
Over the next three years, China plans three expeditions to the Antarctica and two to the Arctic.
The main mission is to find proof of climate change.
Particular reference will be placed on the effects of global warming and how they impact upon China.
(Shanghai Daily March 29, 2007)