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A.P. Chekhov, 1890

After a 250-day, 1640 km drift in the Arctic Ocean, crew from North Pole-40 station is back on shore

By The Siberian Times reporter
05 July 2013

The remarkable rescue and evacuation effort was needed because of a severe break-up in the ice sheet due to global warming.

The mercy mission was carried out by the Yamal icebreaker which sailed 2,236 miles to reach the stricken station. Picture of Yamal's route to rescue the researches to and from Murmansk (marked red), courtesy: Rosatom

The 16 scientists were in danger of sinking on an ice floe that had shrunk ten times. 

Nikolai Fomichev, chief of the drifting ice North Pole 40-40 station, said: 'The cracks went right thought the ice field, diving it into four separate floes - and never froze back.'

The mercy mission was carried out by the Yamal icebreaker which sailed 2,236 miles to reach the stricken station where the Russian flag was lowered in a ceremony on 12 June. The decision to close the station and pluck the crew to safety was taken in mid-May and the Yamal's arrival was 'not a moment too soon', said a source.  

'The equipment and cargo of the expedition were raised and fixed on board the nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal,' said the press service of the FSUE Atomflot, part of the Rosatom State Nuclear Atomic Energy Corporation.

'The environmental cleanup of the ice flow on which the station was based was also conducted.'

This averted a risk of pollution in Arctic waters off the Canadian coast. 

North Pole-40 research mission evacuated

'The equipment and cargo of the expedition were raised and fixed on board the nuclear-powered icebreaker Yamal,' said the press service of the FSUE Atomflot, part of the Rosatom State Nuclear Atomic Energy Corporation. Picture: Vesti TV Russia

By the time the Yamal reached the 16-strong crew they were floating off Canada, having earlier drifted north of the Siberian mainland. 

'Scientific observations were conducted by the polar explorers until the icebreaker approached the station', said the Atomflot press service.  

The icebreaker then set sail for the Severnaya Zemlya archipelago, where a crew - including three evacuated from Polar Station-40 - were disembarked to de-mothball a Soviet-era research station at Cape Baranov of the Bolshevik Peninsula. The seven strong crew are due to work for up to three months at a station last occupied in 1996. 

The rest of the rescued crew then sailed with Yamal back to Murmansk where they were this week greeted by a military orchestra after nine moths away from their families. Studying the ice in the Arctic becomes ever more important, as well as calculating the impact on many aspects of life. 

Ivan Frolov, Director of Arctic and Antarctic Institute, said: 'Political and economic decisions, like the manufacture of ice breakers,  platforms, how to mine, and how to preserve ecology, now depend on the knowledge of what will happen to the ice shield'.

The financing of the future North Pole-41 station is now being discussed. Scientific findings gained during nine months of NP-40's work is yet to be studied, yet already it is clear that  the amount of Arctic ice decreased  by half during the last 15 years.  

Alexander Frolov, Chief of the Russian Hydrometeorological Station, said: 'Weather fluctuations will become stronger. Winters will become more frosty with stronger winds, while summers will have periods of dry and warm weather'.

Comments (1)

the changes happen so quick, don't think we even realise the scale
Peter, Germany
05/07/2013 17:18
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