2008-07-12 13:43:35 GMT 2008-07-12 21:43:35 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
ABOARD XUELONG, July 12 (Xinhua) -- China's scientific expedition to the North Pole is purely aimed at studies on climate change in the area rather than exploration of natural resources, the expedition's chief scientist said Friday.
"The impact of global environmental change on the North Pole and China's climate has been a goal of China's polar expeditions in recent years, and all China's scientific expeditions to the North Pole had been trying to pursue that goal," said Zhang Haisheng, chief scientist of the expedition team that kicked off its Arctic journey Friday.
China's third scientific expedition to the North Pole, which kicked off on Friday, has two major objectives, Zhang said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua aboard the icebreaker Xuelong, or the Snow Dragon.
One is to further identify the drastic environmental changes in the pole, based on two previous expeditions to the region, and the subsequent impact on ecology, environment and climate, said Zhang, also director of the Hangzhou-based No. 2 Research Institute under the State Oceanic Administration.
The other is to study the climate, economic and social impact of the environmental changes in the North Pole on China, said Zhang.
To achieve these goals, the scientists will study the polar region's distinctive maritime resources and air quality, and also do comprehensive research on geological and meteorological conditions, Zhang said.
"From this perspective, China's third scientific expedition to the North Pole is purely a trip for scientific exploration and a journey of peace," he said.
According to recent statistics, the ice melting speed in the North Pole region could be more drastic this year and therefore the expedition will highlight the interaction between water, ice and atmosphere, including the impact of ice melting on the ocean and the atmosphere, Zhang said.
The interaction between water, ice and the atmosphere not only affects the entire North Pole region, but also China, Zhang said.
China's climate is largely affected by monsoons, Zhang said, noting the cold air from Siberia is in fact a kind of dry monsoon that could affect large parts of north China, especially China's northeastern region.
The monsoon would affect the temperature, humidity, as well as precipitation as far as in south China, said Zhang.
In fact, the North Pole is, to an extent, partly blamed for the snow disaster that massively disrupted transportation in south China earlier this year, he said.
"The climate change is closely connected with social and economic development, and therefore, to know about the North Pole is of great realistic importance and long-term strategic significance," Zhang said.
China launched its third scientific expedition to the North Pole on Friday, with a group of 110 scientists and logistics staff participating in the 75-day journey on the icebreaker, the Snow Dragon.
China's first North Pole expedition ran from July 1 to Sept. 9,1999. It collected information on Arctic maritime ecology and atmospheric, geologic and fishing conditions.
During the second voyage in 2003, scientists probed the inter-reactions of the Arctic region and global climate and analyzed the Arctic's influence on the climate in China.
In 2004, China's northernmost observation station was set up in Norway.