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The Academician Fyodorov research vessel will start an Arctic voyage this week
The Academician Fyodorov research vessel will start an Arctic voyage this week, captain Mikhail Kaloshin told Itar-Tass. The 90-day voyage will include comprehensive monitoring of the Arctic environment and landing on Arctic archipelagoes. The vessel will take aboard the nine explorers, who landed on an ice block in early summer. At the end of the voyage, the North Pole 35 expedition will be launched from the Vrangel Island at the 180th latitude, north of the Novosibirsk islands. The first-ever Arctic dive of the Mir-1 and Mir-2 unmanned vehicles to the depth of five kilometers will take place near the North Pole in the end of summer, the captain said. “The scientific experiment will be a part of the International Polar Year,” Arctic expedition supervisor Vladimir Sokolov said. “Special presidential representative for the International Polar Year and chief of the Russian Polar Explorers’ Association Artur Chilingarov will lead the expedition and the dive.” “The Mir vehicles will be relocated from the Academician Keldysh research vessel, which is incapable of navigation in high latitudes, to the Academician Fyodorov ice-class vessel. The Rossiya nuclear-powered icebreaker of the Murmansk Sea Shipping Company will lead the Academician Fyodorov through the Arctic ice fields to the point of destination,” Sokolov said. The Mir will have a crew of three, including Chilingarov, during the North Pole dive. Another two dives will be made near the Lomonosov Ridge and the Gakkel Ridge. “The visual and mechanical research of the geological structure of the undersea ridges will help to update the information about external boundaries of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic region,” the institute source said. The Rossiya nuclear-powered vessel carrying sea geologists returned from an Arctic mission to Murmansk on June 24. The voyage, which lasted for nearly 45 days, was successful, captain Anatoly Oreshko said. In his words, the team fulfilled the program, which updated information about the Russian continental shelf borders within the framework of the International Polar Year. The voyage began from Murmansk on May 13. “It is highly probable that Russia’s continental shelf resources may enlarge by 1.2 million square kilometers outside the 200-mile economic zone in the Arctic Ocean. That area may contain 9-10 billion tonnes of energy resources,” said representatives of the Oceanology Research Institute. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea sets the external boundary of a country by the 12-mile zone, while the economic border is limited to 200 miles. Russia will have to prove that its shelf continues the Siberian continental platform in order to enlarge its territory in the Arctic Ocean. The proof may be received by 2009. The expedition was authorized by the federal government and approved by the Maritime Board. It was also part of the International Polar Year. An extensive Antarctic and Arctic research program – the International Polar Year – started in late February and will last through next March. Scientists from 60 countries will take part in the program. The first International Polar Year led by Russia was held in 1882-1883; Russia helped to organize the second year in 1932-1933, and the third year was held in 1956-1957. This polar year Russia will focus on the research of the Arctic Ocean and adjoining seas, and monitoring of Arctic weather and nature, especially in the area of the Northern Seaway. A new research base will open on the Spitsbergen Archipelago. The national budget will assign 250 million rubles for the International Polar Year program in 2007. The global polar year is an initiative of the International Council of Scientific Unions and the World Meteorological Organization. Meanwhile, a drifting research station is carrying nine explorers who landed from the Rossiya vessel, expedition supervisor at the Arctic and Antarctica Research Institute of the Russian Hydro-Meteorological Service Vladimir Sokolov told Itar-Tass. The expedition is doing comprehensive hydro-meteorological research and studying possible climatic changes and weather in high latitudes,” he said. “The researchers are also assessing the ecological status of the Arctic region.” “This expedition will end in the middle of August, when the Academician Fyodorov research vessel brings in the team of the North Pole 35 drifting station,” he said. A crew of the new Russian drifting research station, North Pole 35, will land on an ice platform from the Academician Fyodorov research vessel this September, the source said. A nuclear-powered icebreaker of the Murmansk Sea Shipping Company will accompany the Academician Fyodorov to the designated area of the Arctic Ocean. “The new Russian scientific outpost in the Arctic region will operate for two years,” Institute Director Ivanov Frolov said. “It is impossible to develop northern areas of Russia, forecast weather and climate changes on this planet and develop hydrocarbons on the continental shelf without a comprehensive study of the Earth ice cap.” “The idea to launch the first Soviet drifting research station was generated at the Arctic Research Institute in the polar research capital, St. Petersburg, in 1929,” Frolov said. “The Arctic basin with an area of 5-6 million square kilometers was a blank spot back then. The idea was implemented only in 1937, when the first expedition team led by Otto Schmidt landed on a drifting ice platform from an aircraft. The expedition included Ivan Papanin, Ernst Krenkel, Pyotr Shirshov and Yevgeny Fyodorov. They drifted about 2,500 kilometers from the North Pole to the southern area of the Greenland Sea, where they were met by icebreakers, within nine months.” “The all-year-round monitoring of the Arctic Ocean started in 1950, when the North Pole 2 expedition of Mikhail Somov began,” Frolov said. Since that time the former Soviet Union had two or even three permanent drifting research stations in the Arctic Ocean until July 1991, when the North Pole 31 project was accomplished. The North Pole 32 station was launched in 2001 after a long pause in the Arctic research and promoted keen interest in the Arctic Ocean. Russia resumed systemic studies of nature in the most difficult of access area of the polar zone. The North Pole 35 will have the internationals status for the first time ever, Chilingarov said. In his words, foreign colleagues will join 20-30 Russian polar researchers. “Budgetary funding of polar exploration and large Arctic projects, including a scientific proof to the external boundaries of the Russian Arctic shelf, is mounting year to year,” Chilingarov said.
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