Chinese icebreaker to return home after 35th Antarctic expedition

The research icebreaker “Xuelong” carrying members of China’s 35th research mission to Antarctica sails on the South China Sea, March 6, 2019. It is expected to arrive at the port of Polar Research Institute of China in Shanghai on March 12, 2019. (Photo by Xinhua)

By Zhao Cheng from People’s Daily

Chinese icebreaker Xuelong, also known as Snow Dragon, is on its way back home from the 35th Antarctic expedition, a fruitful journey during which crew members made a series of scientific research advances in spite of harsh natural conditions and various difficulties including the collision with an iceberg.

In Taishan station, one of China’s research bases in Antarctica, the expedition team built supporting facilities for power generation, heating supply, snow melting, sewage treatment and fire monitoring under snow. This is also China’s first under-snow project on the icy and snowy land.

They have also achieved key technological breakthroughs in new energy applications of photovoltaic cell, wind turbines, refrigerating unit and special material for the research station in Antarctica.

During the four-month-long mission, the research team found the potential breeding ground of krill, a key species for the ecosystem of Antarctica, around Peter I Island located at the east side of the Amundsen Sea, providing an important clue for the scientific community.

The breakthroughs made by researchers reached both basic studies and core technologies. A set of indicator buoy was also deployed in key waters of the westerlies by China for the first time, which will help Chinese scientists better monitor the water dynamics in the Southern Ocean.

It also means China has swirled to a global leader in terms of the technologies to deploy an indicator buoy in extreme environment.

China’s self-developed polar drilling equipment obtained samples of ice core and bedrock core, making China the world’s third country in grasping such technological advantages.

This was the first time for the equipment to be used in Antarctica, which would boost China’s scientific study for Antarctic ice sheet movement and evolution, as well as the subglacial environment and geology.

The icebreaker carrying China’s 35th Antarctic expedition team departed from Shanghai on November 2 last year, and is expected to arrive at the port of Polar Research Institute in Shanghai on March 12.

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