Chilingarov: Ice-based Arctic research station in jeopardy
According to Artur Chilingarov, former special envoy to the Arctic of President Vladimir Putin’s, and famous for planting the Russian flag on the sea bottom on the North Pole, says that unless the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology comes up with 200 million rubles, there will be no Russian research station based on an ice floe in the Arctic this year.
Chilingarov informed Head of Russia’s Arctic Commisssion, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin about this during the commission’s meeting in Murmansk on Wednesday, TASS reports.
According to Chilingarov, a helicopter is ready to start searching for a suitable ice floe on March 18.
The Soviet Union and later Russia has had floating research stations in the Arctic since 1937, with a break in the years 1991-2003.
In the latest years, the research station has normally been established on an ice floe in September-October, and some two dozens of scientists would spend the winter there, measuring climate and weather conditions.
During the last couple of years, it has become more and more difficult to find ice floes solid enough to hold a station.
The last “real” ice station, “North Pole-40”, was established in October 2012, and had to be evacuated in May 2013, because the ice floe the base was placed on, started to break apart. The 16 scientists that had spent the winter on the floe had to be rescued by a nuclear-powered icebreaker sent out from Murmansk.
Russia did not set up any floating stations in 2013-2014 or in 2014-2015. In April 2015 they established a station called “North Pole 2015”, that only existed for four months.
Russian authorities in 2013 announced plans for construction of self-propelled, ice- strengthened floating platform to replace the natural ice floes for future research stations. 1.7 billion rubles (then €42 million) was allocated to this project, but since that, there have been no news about the platform.