China to build inland research base at Antarctica

January 7th, 2009 - 2:38 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Jan 7 (ANI): A Chinese expedition is all set to build an inland research base at Dome Argus, or Dome A, in Antarctica, 4,093 meters above sea level.

According to a report in Nature News, Kunlun, the station, which is scheduled to open on January 28, will gather data in fields ranging from global climate change to the origin of the Universe.

The 37 million dollars Kunlun will be Chinas third Antarctic station, joining the Great Wall station in the South Shetland Islands and the Zhongshan station in east Antarctica.

The Kunlun station will be a major legacy of the International Polar Year and will propel China to the heart of the Antarctic map, said Jean de Pomereu, a photographer who followed the expedition to Zhongshan for the Brussels-based International Polar Foundation.

It is absolutely fantastic to have a station there, said Eric Wolff, an ice-core specialist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, UK.

On October 20, the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration (CAA) sent its expedition team from Shanghai aboard the icebreaker Xue Long to the coastal Zhongshan station.

Bad ice conditions delayed their arrival, but on December 18 two weeks behind schedule a 28-man inland team began the nearly 1,300-kilometre traverse to Dome A.

On arriving at Dome A this week, the expeditioners will have just 20 days to build the station before temperatures drop sharply to below 50 degrees Celsius in early February.

At the end of this years first phase of construction, Kunlun is expected to have a main building of 230 square metres, with 11 units for sleeping, eating and working.

It will have space for up to 25 people, according to Qu Tanzhou, director of the CAA. Six more units are expected to be added next year, for a total area of 327 square meters.

Over the next decade, China hopes to add more facilities to Kunlun, including a large fuel tank and a solar-panel array to provide additional power, and to eventually be able to operate year round.

The CAA also plans to have its own aircraft in Antarctica to shuttle researchers between Zhongshan and Kunlun, increasing the research capacity at both stations.

Only with these logistics in place will we be able to make the most out of the station, said Qu. (ANI)

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