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ST. PETERSBURG, September 6 (Itar-Tass) – The North Pole 39 drifting station will start its mission in the Arctic Ocean in October to replace North Pole 38, head of the Arctic expedition Vladimir Sokolov from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute of the Federal Hydro-Meteorological Service told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
North Pole 39 personnel and property are being prepared for the mission, he said. Alexander Mikheyev will be the station commander. The average age of the explorers is 40 years. Many of them have been on Arctic missions before. The station will have a vast research program, Sokolov said.
The expedition will start aboard the Rossiya nuclear-powered icebreaker from Murmansk. The North Pole 38 crew will be removed from the drifting ice block, and the new station will begin to operate in eastern areas of the Arctic Ocean. Three areas of the future drift have been examined, he said.
North Pole 39 will be the Russian eighth drifting research station in the Arctic Ocean since 2003, when the Arctic expeditions resumed after a 12-year-long pause.
The national program aims to collect new information about the environment of circumpolar areas, including that about morphometrics, structure and local dynamics of the ice shield and systemic monitoring of meteorological and radiation processes in the atmosphere - snow - sea ice - upper sea layer system. Much attention is being given to changes in Arctic eco-systems, sea bottom topography and silt structures, the professor said.
The idea to launch the first Soviet drifting research station was generated at the Arctic Research Institute in the polar research capital, St. Petersburg, in 1929. The Arctic basin with an area of 5-6 million square kilometers was a blank spot back then. The idea was implemented only in 1937, when the first expedition team led by Otto Schmidt landed on a drifting ice platform from an aircraft. The expedition included Ivan Papanin, Ernst Krenkel, Pyotr Shirshov and Yevgeny Fyodorov. They drifted about 2,500 kilometers from the North Pole to the southern area of the Greenland Sea, where they were met by icebreakers, within nine months.
The all-year-round monitoring of the Arctic Ocean started in 1950, when the North Pole 2 expedition of Mikhail Somov began. Since that time the former Soviet Union had two or even three permanent drifting research stations in the Arctic Ocean until July 1991, when the North Pole 31 project was accomplished.
The North Pole 32 station was launched in 2001 after a long pause in the Arctic research and promoted keen interest in the Arctic Ocean. Russia resumed systemic studies of nature in the most difficult of access area of the polar zone.
The drift of North Pole 35 began on September 21, 2007, 65 miles away from the Northern Land archipelago at 81.26 North Latitude, 103.30 East Longitude.
The North Pole 35 crew was evacuated on July 15, and the Mikhail Somov accompanied with the Arktika nuclear-powered icebreaker headed back for Arkhangelsk on July 16.
"The resumption of the Arctic research from a drifting block of ice after a 12-year pause revived the keen interest in the Arctic basin. The information collected by three North Pole stations will broaden the knowledge of processes underway in the central Arctic region, help explain causes of global climate changes and improve the quality of weather forecasts," Sokolov said.