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Chinese icebreaker to depart on Antarctic mission

By Xing Yi | | Updated: 2017-11-06 15:57

China's icebreaker Xuelong will set sail from Shanghai to the Antarctic on Wednesday.

Xuelong's captain Zhu Bing said that the icebreaker will first travel to the to-be-built new station before making a routine stop at Zhongshan station. The icebreaker is scheduled to be back in Shanghai in mid-April.

Carrying 550 metric tons of materials and more than 200 people, one of the vessel's main tasks is to build another comprehensive research station.

Once completed, the new station – it will be located on the Inexpressible Island in Terra Nova Bay of the Ross Sea - will be the country's third year-round station in the Antarctic and the first to be situated on the border of the Pacific Ocean.

The other two stations, the Great Wall Station and the Zhongshan Station, were built in the 1980s. China has another two inland seasonal stations, Kunlun and Taishan, in the Antarctic.

"This time around, we will build a 206-square-meter temporary base, which includes rooms for workers and a dock for large engineering machines, to facilitate future construction work," said Zhang Tijun of the Polar Research Institute of China, who is the assistant leader of the expedition.

Sun Bo, the deputy director of the institute, said that the construction of the station, which will meet international criteria for environmental protection, will be completed as early as 2022.

Yang Huigen, the chief scientist of the expedition, said that another objective of the expedition is to build a network to monitor various environmental indexes, including Sun-Earth interaction, atmospherical changes and sea-ice dynamics, so as to provide scientific data for studies on climate change and Antarctic ecology.

"The network will provide consistent and standardized data that will allow us to learn about the long-term changes happening on the Antarctic continent," said Zhang Beichen, the director of information center at the institute.

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