A Chinese polar expedition team has successfully completed its 63-day, 3,078-kilometer field exploration trip to the highest icecap peak in Antarctica and returned to its home base in the continent, the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said here Tuesday.
The team, as the first humans surmounting the highest icecap peak on Jan. 18, arrived at Zhongshan Station Monday morning, the SOA said.
Chinese vice-premier Zeng Peiyan sent a telegragh on Tuesday to the expedition team on behalf of the Central Authorities and the Chinese people, hailing the country's 21th successful expedition into the South Pole.
"By braving all the difficulties of low temperature and anoxia, Chinese scientists have become the first to locate the highest icecap in Antarctica and set up an automatic weather station there, which laid solid foundations for collecting weather information in the inland area of the continent," Zeng said.
He encouraged them to "surmount new heights of scientific development and make greater contributions to the peaceful use of the unmanned continent in the future."
The 13-man Chinese expedition team left Shanghai on Oct. 25 last year. They surmounted the highest icecap peak in Antarctica on Jan. 18, becoming 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 established an interim scientific observation station at the spot to monitor the climatic environment, measured the depth of the icecap and obtained ice sample from a depth 150 meters to 200 meters below the surface, the SOA said.
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 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.