China's 13th Arctic Ocean scientific expedition team reached the North Pole aboard icebreaker Xuelong 2. Scientists have started to investigate the atmosphere, hydrology, biology and sea-ice conditions near latitude 90° North, China Daily reports.
The project will expand knowledge about the nature of the North Pole. It will help to better understand the process of changes in sea ice and ocean currents, as well as study the ongoing changes in the Arctic Ocean ecology.
The data collected is also important for Chinese specialists to combat the effects of global climate change.
The scientists' activities will focus primarily on the central part of the Pacific Arctic region and the Gakkel Ridge. The Gakkel Ridge is named in honor of Yakov Gakkel (1901-1965), a famous Soviet oceanographer, Director of the geography department of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, a member of the Chelyuskin icebreaker expedition.
As China Daily notes, the expedition takes place in cooperation with specialists from Russia and Thailand. It is organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the People's Republic of China. The expedition team set sail from Shanghai on July 12. During the voyage, the scientists will cover approximately 28.7 thousand kilometers and return to China at the end of September.
Exploring the Arctic region is one of China's policy priorities. In 1999, the country acquired and repaired a foreign icebreaker, named Xuelong. Then, in 2019, China began operating the first such vessel of its own construction. In 2004, the PRC reached an agreement with Norway to build the Arctic Yellow River Station in Svalbard.
China's first-ever white paper on Arctic policy of 26 January 2018 noted that the country "intends to jointly establish maritime trade routes in the region" as part of the Polar Silk Road initiative.