ON AUGUST 10 EXPEDITIONARY RESEARCH VESSEL AKADEMIK FEDOROV TO SET SAIL TO ARCTIC

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ST.PETERSBURG, August 3 (RIA Novosti-North West, Anna Novak) - On Tuesday, August 10, the Akademik Fedorov expeditionary research vessel will set sail from St.Petersburg to the Arctic Ocean to land the research drift station Severny Polyus-33.

On Tuesday RIA Novosti learnt from Sergei Balyasnikov, public relations vice-director of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, that for the Akademik Fedorov it will be the 21st voyage to high latitudes and the fourth Arctic trip. This year it will pass over 9,000 nautical miles, about 4,000 of them in Arctic ice.

In the Arctic voyage, to last until approximately early October 2004, it will make comprehensive study of the Arctic natural environment from the upper atmosphere to the ocean floor. Alongside the twelve winterers and the crew, it will have 35 scientists from Russian research organisations to do allied research work.

The expeditionary vessel will open the Severny Polyus-33, named after researcher Yuri Konstantinov, in early September north of the Novosibirsk islands somewhere in latitude 82-83 north. About 530 tonnes of cargoes - prefabricated houses, research equipment, food, means of transport - will be offloaded from the ship on the drift ice.

The SP-33 station is expected to do work during two years. At the first stage from September 2004 to February 2005, twelve winterers will be led by experienced researcher Alexei Visnevski, deputy head of the SP-32.

Work at the SP-33 will be done in several shifts, from twelve to 24. Foreign research centres are expected to join them at several stages of the drift expedition. Research organisations from Norway, Germany the United States and other countries have already shown interest in experiments to be made at the new Russian station.

The SP-33 will continue many-year research of drift ice in the central Arctic. It was begun by the world's first Soviet drift station back in 1937. Since then, drift stations have been working inthe Arctic Ocean for 29,726 days, covering a distance of 172,163 kilometres.

Major geographic discoveries were made in the 20th century - Lomonosov, Mendeleev and Gakkel transoceanic mountain ridges were opened. The Soviet drift stations produced unique information on the Arctic Ocean, its underwater topography and processes going on in the Arctic basin, arranged year-round navigation along the national transport line - the Northern Sea Route.

Before 1991 Russia was a permanent researcher of the Arctic from drift stations. Cyclic observations were interrupted for economic reasons. Only in April 2003 a new drift station was organised, the SP-32. It operated for only eleven months: on March 6 the station was evacuated because the ice under it broke.

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