Arctic expedition finishes mission

Two unmanned ice stations have been set up to extend China’s ability to observe the northern seas, scientists from the Chinese icebreaker Xuelong said as they wrapped up their most recent expedition.

The domestically developed systems will monitor the interaction of gases, ice and the ocean in the Arctic region. The project will contribute to studies of the Arctic ecosystem and marine environment, scientists said at a media briefing on Wednesday after the return of Xuelong (Snow Dragon).

Measuring ocean acidification and the spread of microplastics were the other major objectives of the expedition of 23,150 kilometers, following on studies from last year.

Ocean acidification is internationally acknowledged as worsening in the Arctic, mainly as a result of rising carbon dioxide emissions. Also, microplastics may trigger environmental disasters, such as the bleaching of coral reefs and negative effects on marine biodiversity, researchers said.

“After carbon from emissions are absorbed, the seawater will be acidified and changes will happen to the local ecological community,” said Chen, adding that more than 3,000 bottles of water – samples from the surface to the sea floor – were collected for lab tests.

China Daily (via: ecns.cn), 27 September 2018. Press release.

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