China's new polar icebreaker to launch in 2013

08:27, June 22, 2011      

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China will launch a new icebreaker for use during an upcoming 2013 polar expedition, a senior oceanic official said on Tuesday.

Both the new icebreaker and Xuelong ("Snow Dragon"), an icebreaker that operated in Antarctica, will form an Arctic-Antarctic maritime research team.

"China will have at least two icebreakers concurrently operating at both the north and south poles," Chen Lianzeng, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration, told a national conference on polar research, which has been the first since 1984 when the country started expeditions in polar regions.

The new icebreaker will boast facilities that will allow it to research the oceanic environment, integrate data for real-time oceanic monitoring, deploy and retrieve detectors and conduct aerial studies using helicopters, Chen said.

The two icebreakers will conduct expeditions in polar regions for more than 200 days annually, he said.

Fixed-wing aircraft will also be added to the expedition team before 2015, allowing researchers to be transported between China's Zhongshan and Kunlun research stations and Antarctica's Grove Mountains.

The Kunlun station went into operation in early 2009 as the first Chinese research station on Antarctica's inland. The Zhongshan station, established in 1989, now serves as a supply base for the Kunlun station.

A written comment by Vice Premier Li Keqiang sent to the conference said the polar research, a magnificent feat of the mankind, has great significance for China's oceanic work and sustainable development.

"Over the past two decades, China's polar research made great achievements and became influential globally," Li said.

Li encouraged Chinese scientists to actively participate in international exchanges and cooperation, safeguard national interests and contribute to the peaceful use of polar regions.

Since the early 1980s, China has sent 27 Antarctic expedition teams and completed four research missions to the Arctic Ocean.

Besides the Xuelong icebreaker, China has built three Antarctic stations -- Changcheng (Great Wall), Zhongshan and Kunlun -- and one Arctic station -- Huanghe (Yellow River) Station.

Source: Xinhua
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