Accumulated ice around the Antarctic continent has slowed the steps of China's expedition team on its way home, official website Xinhua.net reported on Tuesday.
The Antarctic ice breaker the Snow Dragon, or Xuelong in Chinese, sails on ice-covered waters near the Antarctic Continent on Tuesday, March 11, 2008. [Photo: Xinhuanet]
China's Antarctic ice breaker the Snow Dragon, or Xuelong in Chinese, with over 100 researchers aboard, left the continent's Zhongshan station for China on Monday, but has been besieged since Tuesday by vast amount of ice formation at the Prydz Bay area.
Ice mass formed on waters around the Antarctic could reach more than 20 million square kilometers, even larger than the size of the continent itself.
A helicopter was deployed on Tuesday to inspect the situation, and navigators decided to try to make a breakthrough from a route mainly covered by relatively thinner newly-formed ice.
The ship's captain, Shen Quan, said that along the 7,000 sea miles navigation route from the continent back to China, the span of 2,800 sea miles to reach Australia is expected to be the most challenging, not only because of the ice blocking but also more frequent cyclones.
The report said the ship is scheduled to arrive at the port of Fremantle in Australia on March 21, and reach China's coastal city of Shanghai on April 15.
The expedition team, which left Shanghai on November 12, 2007, completed 37 scientific studies and 10 logistic programs despite encounters with rough seas and severe snowstorms in Antarctica.
The Antarctic ice breaker the Snow Dragon, or Xuelong in Chinese, sails on ice-coverd waters near the Antarctic Continent on Tuesday, March 11, 2008.
(CRI, Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2008)