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Interview: China's polar studies contribute to tackling climate change: researcher


Interview: China's polar studies contribute to tackling climate change: researcher

Source: Xinhua       Editor: huaxia


OSLO, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Polar research is becoming increasingly important in addressing the challenges brought about by global climate change, He Fang, lead of China's Arctic Yellow River Station, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Established in July 2004, the Yellow River Station is China's first Arctic research station. It is located in Ny-Alesund, a small town in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

Due to geographical factors, the polar regions are the areas most affected by global warming, He, an associate researcher at the Polar Research Institute of China, said.

The researcher spent more than two months at the Yellow River Station this summer. He said research in the Arctic conducted by scientists from various countries enables more succinct observations of climate change and its impact.

"By studying the effects of global warming on the polar biosphere and glaciers, we can predict major impacts it could have on the Earth's climate and environment in the coming decades if global warming continues," He said.

Currently, the Yellow River Station is involved in four flagship projects proposed by the Ny-Alesund Science Managers Committee, covering marine ecology, terrestrial ecology, atmospheric science and glaciology, according to He.

These multidisciplinary research activities play an important role in understanding global climate change and its impacts on polar environments, he said.

He recalled his first polar experience at China's Zhongshan Station research base in Antarctica, saying he was struck by the vast ice fields and distant icebergs.

"Due to climate change, the icebergs are melting, and it seems that they might disappear before long."

Global warming has a significant impact on glacier movements in the polar regions, He said, adding that multidisciplinary research activities are important in understanding global climate change and the impacts on polar environments.

Situated in the northwestern region of Spitsbergen, the largest island in Norway's Arctic Svalbard archipelago, Ny-Alesund is the world's northernmost permanent settlement.

Once a thriving coal mining town, Ny-Alesund now buzzes with the activities of polar researchers, hosting the world's northernmost year-round research station compound, which includes the Yellow River Station.

Polar life in the station is divided into two distinct seasons. The summer months are a hive of activity. Winter, however, ushers in a period of challenges as the relentless polar night descends. The rhythm of day and night blurs, with polar night enveloping the region for over 120 days from late October to late February.

During the interview, He, who had wintered at the Yellow River Station three times, also related stories that had happened in the international research community there.

"Wintering often means being alone at the station for several months without daylight. This requires strong mental adjustment and constant calibration of one's biological clock to adapt to this unending night and isolation."

In this remote outpost, the canteen usually serves as a communal hub, providing sustenance for the international research community, He said.

"When visiting the canteen, if a fellow researcher from another country was found in low spirits or absent for several days, other people would make sure to check in and offer support." ■