Drifting station 'North Pole-35' set up in Arctic

ST. PETERSBURG, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - The drifting station research unit 'North Pole-35' was set up in the Arctic Friday, said Sergei Balyasnikov, a spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

"The research unit will begin work by sending the first weather-report to the Global Weather Network", he said, adding that the Russian and St Petersburg flags would also be hoisted.

Balyasnikov said 22 researchers and scientists would work at the unit, most of them Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) staff, plus a German scientist from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.

The unit was set up on a 3.3km-wide and 5km-long ice-floe with an average ice thickness of 1.5m.

An ice-floe suitable for the unit could not be located until September 18, when the Akademik Fedorov scientific-expedition ship, following in the path of a Russian ice-breaker, discovered an area with a two-year build up of ice.

The research unit was set up during the third stage of the Arctic-2007 expedition carried out by Russian scientists as part as International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, a campaign focusing on the exploration of the Earth's polar regions. The expedition will provide a better understanding of global climate change, as well as more precise weather forecasts.

The AARI statement said the unit was set up 70 years after the first NP-1 (North Pole-1), headed by Ivan Papanin, began its work. Over the years these research units have spent 29,726 days and covered 172,163 kilometers in the Arctic Ocean.

Some of the most important geographic discoveries of the 21st century - the Lomonosov, Mendeleyev and Gakkel underwater transoceanic ridges - have been made thanks to these research units. They have also enabled the researchers to obtain unique information concerning the Arctic Ocean, its sea bed, and processes underway in the Arctic basin.

Before 1992, Russia continuously conducted Arctic research from drifting research stations, but was forced to interrupt the work due to economic reasons. It was not until April 2003, after a 12-year break, that the new North Pole 32 was organized, launching a new era in Russian Arctic exploration.

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