Russia continues placing scientists on ice floes

Some 16 scientists have spent the winter on the floating research station North Pole-40. (Photo: AARI)

In spite of higher risk connected to diminishing ice in the Arctic, Russia still plans to continue placing scientists on drifting ice floes in the Arctic.


Russian experts have already started studying satellite images of the Arctic in the search for a suitable ice floe to hold the next arctic floating research station, North Pole-41, says Head of Russia’s Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Agency Aleksander Frolov.

As previously reported, the researchers had major problems with finding a suitable icefloe for the ongoing North Pole-40 mission.

“We don’t plan to wind down (the program), only extreme financial hardships could force us doing that. Of course there will be a North Pole-41, we are not going to lose out presence in the high-latitude Arctic, all the more we have scientific programs there”, Frolov says to RIA Novosti.

The current research station, North Pole-40, is drifting along with the ice in the Sea of Beaufort. When Russia opens its Barneo station on the North Pole in April, a helicopter will fly out to the drifting station and pick up some of the scientists who have spent half a year on the ice floe. The plan is to replace the station with North Pole-41 in September.

Russia earlier this year allocated 1,7 billion rubles (app €42 million) to developing a self-propelled, ice- strengthened floating platform to replace the natural ice floes for future research stations.

Russia has had floating research stations in the Arctic since 1937, when the first scientific drifting ice station in the world – “North Pole-1”, was established. From 1954 Soviet “North Pole” stations worked continuously, with one to three such stations operating simultaneously every year. In the post-Soviet era, Russian exploration of the Arctic by drifting ice stations was suspended for twelve years, and was resumed in 2003.