Team prepares to build 5th Antarctic research base

2023-11-23 China Daily Editor:Li Yan

A 32-member Chinese research team arrived at the site where they will construct the nation's fifth Antarctic research station on Tuesday, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The construction of the base is a major task of China's 40th scientific expedition to the southernmost continent.

After departing for New Zealand by air on Nov 16, the researchers took a flight on Tuesday to an Italian airfield built on Antarctic sea ice. From there they flew by helicopter to the site of the station on Inexpressible Island in Terra Nova Bay of the Ross Sea.

Upon arrival, they conducted checks on temporary buildings and equipment at the site and found that the buildings and mechanical equipment were all in good condition. They have since established basic support for electricity, telecommunications and their daily needs, and will get machinery running and roads cleared soon, Xinhua reported.

More crew members are currently on board Xuelong 2, China's first domestically built icebreaker, which arrived at the port of Lyttelton near Christchurch, New Zealand, on Wednesday.

After restocking fresh vegetables and fruit, as well as picking up seven members of the expedition team, the icebreaker will depart from New Zealand and join the cargo ship Tian Hui, which is carrying construction materials for the new Antarctic station. Both ships will then head for the new station site and are expected to arrive in early December.

The station, which is yet to be named, will be capable of accommodating 80 people in summer and 30 in winter, according to the Polar Research Institute of China.

It will be China's third Antarctic research base that can be operated all year around, after the Changcheng and Zhongshan stations, both of which were built in the late 1980s.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, China's 40th Antarctic scientific expedition will focus on three major tasks: building a new scientific research station; conducting research on the impact of climate change on Antarctic ecology; and carrying out international cooperation.

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