An Arctic ice floe is melting because of global warming, forcing Russian scientists to evacuate a research station, a spokesman said
The North Pole-35 station, where 21 researchers and two dogs live in huts, will be taken off the floe in the western Arctic Ocean this week instead of in late August as originally planned, said Sergei Balyasnikov of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg.
The research crew landed in early September on the 1.2- by 2.5-mile floe near the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago. During its westward drift of more than 1,550 miles, the floe shrank to just 1,000 by 2,000 feet.
"The evacuation is ahead of schedule because of global warming," Balyasnikov said.
The nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika will escort the research vessel Mikhail Somov to the station, which is drifting between the Franz Josef Land archipelago and the island of Novaya Zemlya in the western Arctic.
The researchers are packing up their winterized huts and equipment to prepare for the ships' arrival, Balyasnikov said.
Over the last 60 years, Russia has organized dozens of stations that collect data on weather and Arctic flora and fauna.