A recently concluded China-Russia joint Arctic expedition has yielded a more comprehensive and systematic understanding of the Arctic Ocean that will provide scientific support for the development of a Polar Silk Road, scientists from the two countries said on Tuesday.
Eleven Chinese researchers and 19 Russians participated in the second joint Sino-Russia Arctic expedition, which started in Russia's eastern port of Vladivostok on Sept 6. After overcoming extreme weather and traveling 12,000 kilometers, they returned to the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on Oct 21.
The 46-day expedition was jointly organized by the Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, based in Qingdao, Shandong province, and the Russian Academy of Sciences Pacific Oceanological Institute.
Scientists from both countries carried out multidisciplinary surveys during the expedition, including ocean geology, hydrometeorology, chemistry and biodiversity as well as obtained a host of specimens and data from the atmosphere, seawater and sediment.
"All these provide the basics to study the ocean environment, biology, ecology and climate change," said Hu Limin, the expedition's chief scientist on the Chinese side.
Hu said the expedition acquired some data about hydrometeorology along the Northeast Passage, a shipping route connecting Northeast Asia with Western Europe.
In July 2017, Russia and China agreed to carry out cooperation on the Northern Sea Route and jointly build a Polar Silk Road.
The Polar Silk Road via the Arctic is widely seen as the third arc of the Belt and Road Initiative, adding another sea route beyond the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, Africa-Mediterranean and South Pacific-Oceania.
An optical profiler developed by the Qingdao lab played a big role in the observation of the Northeast Passage and obtained firsthand data about fog, snow and low clouds during rapid weather changes, said Zhao Jinping, a veteran scientist of Arctic studies who is also involved in this expedition.
Anatolii Astakhov, deputy director of Russia's Pacific Oceanological Institute, said the Northern Sea Route holds interest for both countries.
He said the specimens and data would be transported to both countries' research institutions for further study and added that he hoped the research results would be published in top scientific periodicals.
The first China-Russia joint Arctic expedition took place in 2016, and the Qingdao lab signed a letter of intent to cooperate with the Russian Academy of Sciences P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology a month ago.
Cooperation with Russian scientists is part of the Qingdao lab's efforts to deepen international cooperation and develop a global innovation network, said Pan Kehou, secretary-general of the Qingdao lab's academic committee.
Currently, the lab is in partnership with top oceanographic research forces in the United States, Australia and Germany to establish joint research centers, Pan said.