Scientists prepare ice-proof platform for work in the Arctic

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ST. PETERSBURG, December 4. /TASS/. A team of Russian and foreign scientists during the Trans Arctic 2019 expedition successfully tested technologies to organize scientific research to be used for work of the North Pole ice-proof platform, which the Russian hydrometeorology service, RosHydroMet, has ordered, Director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute Alexander Makarov told TASS on Wednesday.

RosHydroMet and the Admiralty Shipyard inked a contract on construction of the North Pole ice-proof floating platform to revive the North Pole annual drifting expeditions, which have been suspended in the early 2000s due to the climate changes.

“During the first stage of the Trans Arctic 2019 project, the Akademik Treshnikov (research vessel) was frozen into ice north off Franz Josef Land, and a camp was organized next to it on the ice – there researchers studied the Arctic’s environment,” the director said. “The vessel became the platform’s model. During the expedition we faced an emergency situation – a crack line crossed the ice, we packed the camp within three hours, thus we practiced our actions in an emergency situation.”

The expedition on board the Akademik Treshnikov featured more than 50 scientists, including representatives of three foreign organizations, the scientist continued. The experts worked both onboard and in the camp, where they had equipment to study the ice, ocean and atmosphere. Onboard the North Pole platform researchers will conduct geological, acoustic, geo-physical and ocean studies. The vessel will work independently for two years, will sail in the ice without icebreakers and will carry a Mil Mi-8 helicopter.

The platform’s options

The North Pole platform’s lifespan is 30-40 years, thus scientists may plan studies for years ahead, the director continued. “It is a unique situation – our life consists of shorter cycles – marine projects are normally 3-5 years long, not more; thus for coming decades this would be the most prominent scientific project in the Arctic,” he said, adding scientists from Germany, Norway and a few Asian countries had expressed interest in joining the research on this ice-proof platform.

“I hope the project would be international, as everybody is interested in up-to-date information from the Arctic,” he said. “In addition to this platform we have a network of observatories on the shore – on Spitzbergen, the Baranov Cape, and Tiksi – those observatories practically completely cover the Russian Arctic with the exception for the eastern sector. When we have the floating platform, it would mean we have a territory-stretched observatory.”

According to the Institute’s director, results of studies in the central Arctic during the past expedition are of important practical value. One of directions is forecasts for navigation in the Northern Sea Route. “The Institute is responsible for forecasts, hydrometeorology services along the route, and the precision of models, forecasts for the high-latitude Arctic is not like for the temperate latitudes,” he said. “Thus, the information, received from direct observation off the platform, will be of huge value to specify and update forecast models for the high-latitude Arctic.”

About the expedition

The Trans Arctic 2019 scientific polar expedition is a big project of Russia’s hydrometeorology service, RosHydroMet, which continues the research traditions of sea, air and drift expeditions and stations in the Arctic’s high latitudes. The first stage kicked off in March on board the Akademik Treshnikov vessel. The second stage was on board the Mikhail Somov. Earlier, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered to allocate in 2019 almost 870 million rubles ($13 million) for scientific studies and monitoring of the Arctic environment during the Trans Arctic 2019 expedition. The Professor Multanovsky and the Professor Molchanov research vessels also participated in the expedition. During the voyages scientists received unique data, which will be used for complex analysis of the Arctic’s environment in the changing climate.


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