Sea ice interrupts offshore drilling, fishing in China's north

23:19, January 07, 2011      

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Rapidly expanding sea ice has interrupted offshore drilling, fishing and other economic activities in the Bohai and Yellow seas.

The Meteorological Bureau in China's northeast Liaoning Province said Friday 9,795 square kilometers of ice had developed in the two seas.

Shandong Provincial Maritime Affairs Bureau has decided to dispatch rescue helicopters and fishing inspections boats to monitor the situation and aid rescue operations if required, said a bureau spokesman.

As the sea ice expands, the maritime affairs department has ordered the closure of the Binzhou and Haimiao harbors.

The ice has also interrupted the loading of cargo at Weifang and Dongying harbors, China's coal and oil transportation hubs.

Ice extending out from Liaodong Bay -- in the north of the Bohai Sea -- was 3,191 square km larger than on Jan. 1, and ice in the Yellow Sea expanded by 406.6 square km during the same period, according to the bureau's figures.

The average temperature of minus 12.5 degrees Celsius from Monday to Wednesday for the Bohai Sea was 2.3 degrees lower than normal.

Beihai Forecasting Center of State Oceanic Administration said Friday the average sea ice thickness in the Bohai and Yellow seas was between 5 and 15 cm.

Ice breakers are working to keep all major ports in north China open.

However, a gas station worker surnamed Zhao at the port of Tianjin said few transportation vessels had come to refuel recently because of the sea ice.

More than 500 fishing boats are docked in Tianjin. Fishermen said the sea ice normally thaws in March.

Source: Xinhua
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