The Akademik Fedorov scientific-expedition ship will leave St. Petersburg for the Arctic Ocean to set up the North Pole 33 drifting research station.
This will be the Akademik Fedorov's 21st voyage to high latitudes and the fourth Arctic voyage, said Sergei Balyasnikov, assistant director for public relations of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
This year the ship will travel over 9,000 nautical miles, including about 4,000 nautical miles in ice in the Arctic. During the voyage, which will last approximately until early October 2004, scientists will conduct comprehensive research into the Arctic's environment from the upper layers of the atmosphere to the bottom of the ocean.
Apart from the crew and the 12 scientists who will spend the winter in the Arctic, there will be 35 other scientists from Russian research organizations who will conduct other research.
The Yuri Konstantinov North Pole 33 drifting research station will be put into operation on the Akademik Fedorov in early September, north of Novosibirsk Islands at approximately 82-83 north latitude.
About 530 metric tons of cargo will be unloaded onto the drifting ice: houses, scientific equipment, food and vehicles.
The station is expected to be in operation for two years. During the first stage from September 2004 to February 2004, 12 polar researchers will work at the station.
There will be several personnel rotations; the number of researchers will fluctuate between 12 and 24. At some stages, scientists from foreign research centers will take part in the work.
Scientific organizations from Norway, Germany, the U.S. and other countries have shown interest in performing experiments at the new Russian station.
The main goal of the research station is to resume hydrometeorological and ecological monitoring of the central part of the Arctic, conduct a series of environmental studies necessary for economic activity in the Arctic region, as well as to study the physical processes brought about by global and regional climatic change.
The station will continue long-term studies from a drifting ice-floe in the central Arctic. These studies began in 1937 at the world's drifting research station. Over the years, these stations have spent 29,726 days and covered 172,163 kilometers in the Arctic Ocean.
Some of the most important geographic discoveries of the 21st century - Lomonosov, Mendeleyev and Gakkel underwater transoceanic ridges - were made because of theses stations. Largely thanks to the work of Soviet research stations, it became possible to obtains unique information about the Arctic Ocean, its bottom relief and the processes underway in the Arctic basin as well as to establish year round navigation along the Russian national transport route, the Northern Sea Route.
Before 1992, Russia continuously conducted Arctic research from drifting research stations, but had to discontinue this cycle of observations for economic reasons. It was not until April 2003, after a 12-year break, that the new North Pole 32 was organized. The first Russian drifting research stations worked for 11months: on March 6 it had to be evacuated. However, the North Pole 32's work became an impetus for the resumption of Russian high latitude Arctic expeditions.