Icebreaker Mikhail Somov takes scientists to Chukotka

ARKHANGELSK, September 4. /TASS/. The Mikhail Somov icebreaker left Arkhanglesk to take scientists to Chukotka on Wednesday. The ship will also deliver supplies to polar stations from the Kara Sea to the Chukchi Sea, the Northern Department on Hydrometeorology and Environment’s Director Roman Yershov told TASS.

“The Mikhail Somov will call on stations on the Severnaya Zemlya, the New Siberian Islands, the Wrangel Island and the Novaya Zemlya,” he said. “Experts of the ocean studies institute [S. Gramberg All-Russia Scientific Research Institute for Geology and Mineral Resources of the Ocean] will work on the Severnaya Zemlya and the New Siberian Islands, and scientists of the Arctic and Antarctic institute will work near the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago and in the Kara Sea.”

The expedition will continue for 80-85 days. The Mikhail Somov will return to Arkhangelsk around November 20.

Geological studies

Head of the ocean studies institute’s expedition Viktor Bogin told TASS in September that the ship would be able to approach the Severnaya Zemlya and the New Siberian Islands. “In July, those lands are covered with snow, and ice around the islands melts away only in August,” he said. “If the weather is good, we shall take helicopters to get there every day to do research. But if the weather is bad, we shall be taken ashore and will stay there for a few days.”

A team of eleven people will explore the archipelagoes. “Those are surface works. On Severnaya Zemlya we shall work on a big group of islands: the October Revolution Island and many small islands,” he added.

According to the expert, geological and geo-physics studies used to be conducted on the archipelagoes earlier, but nowadays scientists apply new methods. “We have new equipment and we shall be able to study the samples we take differently,” he said. “We are using new methods for mapping, and for taking samples. Thus, we recover old data for new demands.”

Annual supplies

The icebreaker will deliver more than 600 tonnes of supplies: fuel, food, equipment for aerological studies, construction materials and new teams to the polar stations located by the White, Barents, Kara, East-Siberian, Chukchi and Laptev seas. Meteorologists will service and renovate communication and energy equipment. The Mikhail Somov will make stops at 30 polar stations.

During the voyage, the icebreaker will take volunteers from the Fedorov meteorology station on the Vaygach Island onboard. They came there in July under a joint project with the World Wide Fund for Nature. The volunteers installed a special fence from polar bears. The fence is 700 meters long and three meters high. Earlier, the station was fitted out with cameras and gratings on all windows and doors. Polar bears often approach the meteorology station on the island. After the test on the Vaygach, similar systems may be fixed at other stations, roughly ten, where the predators are frequent guests.

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