Acid­i­fi­ca­tion of Arc­tic to be stud­ied on ice­breaker Cut­ting-edge en­vi­ron­men­tal re­search to in­clude the spread of mi­croplas­tics

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The Chi­nese ice­breaker Xue­long, or Snow Dragon, will set out for north­ern seas on Thurs­day on a quest to mea­sure the acid­i­fi­ca­tion of the Arc­tic Ocean.

It is in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­knowl­edged that ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion, mainly caused by ris­ing car­bon diox­ide emis­sions, is wors­en­ing in the Arc­tic, ac­cord­ing to Xu Ren, deputy head of the Shang­haibased Po­lar Re­search In­sti­tute of China. It is the first time the in­sti­tute has tar­geted Arc­tic acid­i­fi­ca­tion.

“It may trig­ger en­v­i­ron- men­tal dis­as­ters, such as the bleach­ing of co­ral reefs, and af­fect marine bio­di­ver­sity. Ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion is a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional cut­ting-edge topic, af­ter global warm­ing and marine pol­lu­tion,” Xu, team leader of this year’s 83-day ex­pe­di­tion, said at a me­dia brief­ing on Tues­day.

“Al­though the sit­u­a­tion in the Arc­tic Ocean is un­doubt­edly bet­ter than that of the oceans ad­ja­cent to con­ti­nents with a dense pop­u­la­tion, it will de­te­ri­o­rate with global warm­ing and the de­crease of sea ice in the Arc­tic.”

The ex­pe­di­tion also will un­der­take sci­en­tific re­search on marine mi­croplas­tics, which are tiny pieces of plas­tic, of­ten used in fa­cial cleansers and sim­i­lar prod­ucts as scrub­bers, that pass through waste­water treat­ment plants and reach the ocean, of­fi­cials said. It will be the first time for the is­sue to be stud­ied dur­ing an in­sti­tute ex­pe­di­tion, which also con­ducts stud­ies in mul­ti­ple dis­ci­plines such as marine bi­ol­ogy, me­te­o­rol­ogy, ge­ol­ogy and chem­istry.

Ac­cord­ing to Lin Weiqing, deputy di­rec­tor of the Shang­hai Academy of En­vi­ron­men­tal Sciences, mi­croplas­tics have al­ready been dis­cov­ered in zoo­plank­ton and could even­tu­ally find their way to hu­man stom­achs if con­sumed by fish and other crea­tures higher up the food chain.

The ice­breaker will at­tempt China’s first cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of the Arc­tic rim dur­ing the planned 35,000- kilo­me­ter voy­age with a 96-mem­ber ex­pe­di­tion team on board. All the tar­geted re­search will be car­ried out through­out the trip, said Shen Quan, cap­tain of the ves­sel and deputy team leader of the ex­pe­di­tion.

China’s po­lar ex­pe­di­tions to the Arc­tic will take place once a year in or­der to re­al­ize long-term, sys­tem­atic and stan­dard­ized sci­en­tific ob­ser­va­tions and ex­plo­rations of the re­gion, Xu said.

Such ex­pe­di­tions started in 1999 and have been un­der­taken seven times, but a greater frequency is needed given the rapid chances in the Arc­tic, of­fi­cials said.

“As a re­spon­si­ble great power, China must make due con­tri­bu­tions in in­ter­na­tional gov­er­nance of the Arc­tic re­gion,” Xu said.

FANG ZHE / XINHUA

Staff mem­bers in out­fits ap­pear on Tues­day at the open­ing of the Li­cens­ing Expo China 2017 at Shang­hai’s Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter. The three-day expo con­nects brand own­ers and agents with man­u­fac­tur­ers and li­censees.

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