April 10, 2013 (TSR – Xinhua) – China’s icebreaker “Xuelong,” or “Snow Dragon,” returned to its anchorage in Shanghai on Tuesday, concluding the country’s 29th Antarctic expedition.
The research vessel left the southern port city of Guangzhou on Nov. 5, 2012 for Antarctica. It covered 29,000 nautical miles over its 156-day southern voyage, among which 6,000 nautical miles were in ice regions.
A total of 239 researchers on board completed 53 research tasks on biology, ecology, geophysics, ocean, climate, environment and glacier, and engineering construction missions.
Chinese scientists have succeeded in drilling ice cores with a total length of 11.2 meters in Kunlun Station located in the highest zone of the Antarctic ice cover with an altitude of more than 4,000 meters, said Sun Bo, deputy head of the expedition team.
The ice core will be key in unraveling the mystery of ancient climate, Sun said.
The expedition team has also completed site inspections for two new stations to be built in Antarctica, said Sun.
The two stations include a summer station that can be used to provide replenishment and other logistical support and a perennial station that can be used to carry out multi-disciplinary research on bio-ecology and satellite remote sensing, he said.
China launched its first expedition to the Antarctic in 1984 and has established three stations there including Changcheng (Great Wall), Zhongshan and Kunlun.
Brief on Xue Long ,”Snow Dragon”
Built in Ukraine in 1993, R/V Xuelong was an icebreaker ice-strengthened to Class B1. China bought it and refitted it into a polar research vessel by making an investment of 31 million yuan (RMB), which has been put into service in place of R/V Jidi since 1994. The main technical indexes of the ship are as follows:
Total length: 167.0 m
Moulded breadth: 22.6 m
Moulded depth: 13.5 m
Full draft: 9.0 m
Full displacement: 21, 025 tons
Maximum speed: 18 knots
Cruising radius: 20, 000 nm
Main engine power: 13, 200 kw
Auxiliary engine power: 800 kw × 3
Deadweight capacity: 10, 225 tons
The vessel is provided with advanced navigational, positioning and automatic piloting systems as well as platform which can accommodate two helicopters, a hangar and necessary equipment. She can continuously break ice as thick as 1.1 m (including 0.2 m thick snow) at a sailing speed of 1.5 knot. On board of the ship, there are labs of marine physics, marine chemistry and biology, and meteorological and clean labs as well as a data processing center, covering an area of 200 m2. The vessel is fitted with internationally advanced apparatuses and equipment for ocean survey such as CTD and ADCP. Besides, the vessel has 128 berths. The R/V Xuelong is now subordinate to the Polar Research Institute of China (PRIC).