Re-opens Cold War era Arctic research station

Severnaya Zemlya is an archipelago located off mainland Siberia's Taymyr Peninsula across the Vilkitsky Strait.

Seven Russian scientists, some of which were evacuated from the drifting ice station North Pole-40, will be spending the summer at an abandoned research station on the island of Bolshevik on Severnaya Zemlya.


The drifting ice station North Pole-40 was officially closed in a ceremony on June 12. All equipment, instruments, scientists and dogs were loaded on the nuclear-powered icebreaker “Yamal”, the ice floe was cleaned and the vessel started the long journey towards Severnaya Zemlya.

The vessel is now some 360 nautical miles from Severnaya Zemlya and will reach shore in 3-4 days, Regnum writes.

As BarentsObserver reported, the ice floe carrying the research station started breaking up in the end of May.  Russia’s Minister of Nature Resources and Ecology Sergey Donskoy ordered immediate evacuation of the station and “Yamal” left Murmansk on June 1 for the evacuation mission.

During the 250 days North Pole-40 was in operation the ice floe drifted 1640 kilometers.

On Bolshevik the scientists will re-open one of the three polar research stations the Soviet Union established on the island during the Cold War. The stations were closed in 1996 because of financial problems. Seven scientists will now be spending the summer on Bolshevik, and if the funding for continued research falls into place, they could be replaced with another group of scientists that will stay there during winter, Vesti reports.

Severnaya Zemlya was one of the last white spots on the world map. The archipelago was first noted in 2013 and first charted in 1930-32.

Russia has had floating research stations in the Arctic since 1937. With ice levels in the Arctic reaching record lows, finding a suitable floe for the station has proved to be a more and more difficult task. Before finding an ice floe solid enough to hold the North Pole-40, The icebreaker carrying the station’s crew had to sail all around the North Pole.

Also the previous shift of Russian scientists experienced problems with the ice situation in the Arctic. In late April the members of North Pole-39 had to move the whole research station to another ice floe because the first one was breaking up.