China’s expedition to Antarctica

China goes to space, China hosts the 2008 Olympics… and yesterday November 12: 91 Chinese scientists leave Shanghai for a new Antarctica expedition.

188 Chinese go on a 5 months Antarctica expedition: 91 Chinese scientists will reach Antarctica on the Xue Long Antarctica cruise ship, the rest of the 188 strong expedition will reach Antarctica by air.

This will be China’s 24th scientific expedition to Antarctica.

Why China wants to explore Antarctica

  • this Antarctica expedition will lay the foundations for China’s in-depth exploration of the Antarctic area
  • the expedition team will fix the site of China’s third scientific research station at the South Pole (a planned observatory with seven telescopes and one acoustic radar at Dome A, the highest point on the Antarctica continent at 4,093 meters above sea level)
  • the Chinese Antarctic explorers will also conduct field research into the bio-diversity of Antarctica, the ice shelf, climate change, global warming, the Antarctic ice algae and krill, and environmental monitoring

Antarctica Cruise Ship

Chinese Antarctica cruise ship Xue Long (snow dragon)

All this makes you wonder what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon really is doing in Antarctica these days except for enjoying a once in a lifetime tourist vacation free cruise to Antarctica

Antarctica Weather

Temperatures on the ice sheet’s highest plateau on Antarctica drop to – 90 C and it has for long been considered "unapproachable".

So this Chinese Antarctica expedition team will first conduct preparatory work such as boiling water and observing the atmosphere.

China’s future plans on Antarctica

China is making preparations to build a third Antarctica station and once the site is located, construction will start soon to be completed by 2010.

1 week ago, China sent 189 construction workers from the China Railway Construction Engineering Group to begin work on the biggest expansion of the two permanent Antarctic stations – Changcheng (Great Wall) and Zhongshan.

These workers will add facilities comprising a space observation station, garage, warehouse, garbage and sewage discharge system, boiler house, high-frequency radar room and oil tanker to the two Antarctic stations.

To protect the environment, this South Pole construction group has built advanced sewage treatment systems and garbage burning facilities. Non-degradable and solid waste will be shipped back home for treatment.

China’s history of Antarctica Expeditions

China launched its first expedition to Antarctica in 1984.

Since that first Antarctica "adventure", such expeditions have been conducted on an annual basis.

China is part of the 82 stations built on Antarctica. Antarctica receives more than 30 scientific expedition teams every year, one of which is Chinese.

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