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    ST. PETERSBURG, September 5 (RIA Novosti's Anna Novak) - On Sunday, September 5, a Russian-US expedition is leaving for the Laptev Sea to study climatic change in the Arctic.

    The scientists will put out to sea from the port of Kirkines (Norway) onboard the icebreaker Kapitan Dranitsyn of the Murmansk sea steamship-line, reported the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

    During 22 days, 21 Russian and US scientists will conduct ice, weather, oceanographic and biological observations in the northern part of the Laptev sea.

    Thanks to the use of the icebreaker, the expedition will collect information about the environment in this region of the Arctic Ocean.

    One of the main directions of the expedition program will be the installment of three new-generation autonomous stations, not used in the Arctic before.

    For a year, two such stations conducted continuous observations of oceanographic parameters in the depth of the ocean. The data obtained will enable them to quantitatively describe annual changes in the state of the ocean in observation points.

    It is planned that in some regions research groups will disembark on drift ice fields. The scientists will determine ice characteristics, the intensity of heat exchange between the polar ocean and the atmosphere.

    Autonomous stations will be installed on ice fields. Throughout the long drift in the Arctic Ocean, they will observe the state of weather and transmit meteorological data to meteorological information collection centers to improve the accuracy of Arctic weather forecasts and ice condition forecasts for Arctic seas.

    The results of joint research are of great scientific and practical importance, stressed the research institute.

    In the past decade, considerable changes have taken place in the Arctic environment. From 1987-1989, the temperature of Atlantic waters in the Arctic Ocean started rising. This continued until the beginning of the new millenium.

    A rise in the air temperature led to the reduction of the area and thickness of Arctic ice. Such a lengthy positive anomaly has raised a number of questions related to a potential climatic change in the Arctic.

    The research to be conducted by the scientists will also help to more accurately estimate the role of natural and anthropogenic factors in the current climatic change and improve its forecasting.

    This is already the third expedition which the St.Petersburg-based Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute and the International Arctic Center under the University of Alaska conduct in the Laptev Sea.

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