Exploring 80,000 Li Across the Three Oceans -- A Review of the Achievements of Scientific Expeditions to China's Polar Oceans

author:Department of Natural Resources
Exploring 80,000 Li Across the Three Oceans -- A Review of the Achievements of Scientific Expeditions to China's Polar Oceans

The raging ocean has given birth to countless lives; The majestic waves stir the excellent culture; The exploration of the poles of wind and snow and the deep ocean highlights the selfless and fearless Chinese spirit.

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The north and south poles of the earth are "sacred places of scientific experiments" and a treasure trove of resources for the sustainable development of the world economy, which has immeasurable scientific value and practical significance for human beings to understand the environmental evolution and life process of the earth and explore the mysteries of the universe.

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China made the strategic deployment of "building a maritime power", and the report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and the report of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China further specified the deployment of "accelerating the construction of a maritime power". As an important field for expanding marine space, polar regions and deep sea are new areas for cooperation between all parties.

General Secretary Xi Jinping attaches great importance to polar and oceanic work.

In June 2013, on the occasion of the Midwinter Festival in Antarctica, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolences to the Great Wall Station of Antarctica, Zhongshan Station and Antarctic research stations of various countries. The telegram pointed out that the practice of scientific investigation has proved that the Antarctic region is no longer a mysterious ice and snow world outside human social civilization, and the important role played by the Antarctic region in coping with global climate change and promoting the sustainable development of human society has become more and more recognized by people and has become an important area closely related to us. It is of great practical significance to carry out marine and polar expeditions and explore the mysteries of earth science.

In January 2014, after the "Xuelong" ship rescued a Russian passenger ship from being blocked by ice, General Secretary Xi Jinping immediately issued important instructions, requiring all relevant parties to coordinate and cooperate to guide them to help them get out of difficulties and ensure the safety of personnel. He said that the people of the motherland are with them and hope that they will take care of their health, strengthen their confidence, respond calmly, and make scientific measures, so as to strive for an early and safe return.

On the occasion of the completion and use of China's Antarctic Taishan Station, General Secretary Xi Jinping sent a letter to Taishan Station to express warm congratulations. Xi Jinping said in his congratulatory letter that polar scientific investigation is an important field for human beings to explore the mysteries of nature and explore new development space, and it is a cause that contributes to contemporary times and benefits the future. The Taishan Station of China's Antarctica and the completed Great Wall Station of Antarctica, Zhongshan Station of Antarctica, Kunlun Station of Antarctica and Yellow River Station of the Arctic of China are not only platforms for mainland polar workers to carry out scientific investigations, but also important windows for foreign scientific exchanges on the mainland. Xi Jinping said that he believes that with the hard work of the vast number of polar workers, the mainland polar scientific exploration will certainly be able to make new and greater achievements for the benefit of mankind.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the polar expedition, on November 18, 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his condolences to the scientific expedition personnel of the two countries during his visit to Australia. Xi Jinping pointed out that the scientific expedition to Antarctica is of great significance and is a noble cause that benefits mankind. China's Antarctic scientific expedition has contributed to the peaceful use of Antarctica by mankind, and over the past 30 years, Chinese and Australian scientific expeditions have carried out comprehensive and in-depth cooperation. China is willing to continue to work with Australia and the international community to better understand, protect and utilize Antarctica. Later, Xi Jinping went to the pier, boarded the "Snow Dragon" ship, and visited the photo exhibition of the 30th anniversary of China's polar exploration.

General Secretary Xi Jinping's concern and guidance for polar work have encouraged motivation and led the direction for the mainland to promote the development of polar causes.

Since the 21st century, all countries have recognized the importance of the ocean and have turned their attention to the ocean. Developing and understanding the deep sea requires different marine equipment, and manned submersibles are one of the important deep-sea equipment for investigation.

General Secretary Xi Jinping is very concerned about and supports the research and development of mainland manned submersibles. After the successful 7,000-meter sea trial of the mainland's first manned submersible "Jiaolong" in 2012, General Secretary Xi Jinping met with representatives of advanced manned deep diving units and advanced workers at the Great Hall of the People on May 17, 2013, and on behalf of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, extended warm congratulations and sincere greetings to the vast number of scientific and technological workers, cadres and workers who successfully completed the manned deep diving test task of the Jiaolong, and encouraged everyone to unite and work hard, forge ahead in a pioneering spirit, and promote the mainland's marine cause to continuously make new breakthroughs. Greater achievements have been made in building a maritime power.

On April 12, 2018, General Secretary Xi Jinping came to the Institute of Deep Sea Science and Engineering of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Sanya to visit scientific and technological personnel and investigate scientific and technological innovation. He pointed out that the mainland is a big maritime country with a vast sea area. We must march into the sea and speed up the construction of a maritime power.

The "Striver" all-sea deep-manned submersible successfully completed 10,000-meter sea trials and returned home on November 28, 2020. General Secretary Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to extend warm congratulations and greetings to all scientific research workers who are committed to the research and development of deep-sea equipment and scientific research on the abyss. Xi Jinping hopes that all scientific researchers who are committed to the research and development of deep-sea equipment and scientific research in the abyss will continue to carry forward the spirit of science, bravely climb the peak of deep-sea science and technology, strive to accelerate the construction of a maritime power, realize the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and continuously make new and greater contributions to the understanding, protection and development of the ocean for mankind.

General Secretary Xi Jinping's concern and guidance for the development of manned deep diving on the mainland has injected strong impetus into the success of manned deep diving on the mainland and pointed out the direction for the mainland to carry out deep-sea exploration.

It spans 80,000 li

On October 8, 1984, the continent's first Antarctic expedition was established. Before the expedition team set off, Comrade Deng Xiaoping wrote down "Contribute to the peaceful use of Antarctica by mankind" and sounded the clarion call to "march to Antarctica"!

Exploring 80,000 Li Across the Three Oceans -- A Review of the Achievements of Scientific Expeditions to China's Polar Oceans

China's 39th Antarctic Expedition set out to write a new chapter of the "Double Dragon" exploration for the third time. Photo courtesy of China Polar Research Center

On November 20, 1984, 591 warriors rushed to Antarctica, thousands of miles away, to carry out the continent's first Antarctic expedition. After 40 days at sea, the expedition landed on the Fields Peninsula west of King George Island and planted the five-star red flag in Antarctica for the first time. The expedition members immediately braved the wind and snow, fought for 27 days and nights, and built the continent's first Antarctic research station, the Great Wall Station.

On the vast white land of Antarctica, Chinese busy figure has been shimmering every year.

For the 14 million square kilometers of the Antarctic continent, it is not enough to conduct an expedition near the West Antarctic Antarctic Circle. After the completion of the Great Wall Station, China began planning to build a second Antarctic research station in the Rasman Hills of East Antarctica within the Antarctic Circle.

On November 20, 1988, the Fifth Chinese Antarctic Expedition set out for East Antarctica with the glorious mission of building Zhongshan Station. When the five-star red flag was raised over Zhongshan Station, which was built more than 90 days later, all 116 team members shed tears of excitement, faced the north, looked at the motherland, and shouted: "The five-star red flag has flown over the South Pole!" ”

From that year, the expedition team stayed at Zhongshan Station for the winter. Loneliness and cold test their will and spirit, determination and ability... It continues to this day.

The poles, freezing points, magnetic points and high points in the interior of Antarctica are of the most scientific research value. At that time, the United States established Amundsen Scott Station at the Pole, Russia established the Vostoch Station at the freezing point, and France and Italy jointly established the Dimondivee Station at the magnetic point. Only the high point is untouched, because it is called the "inaccessible pole of mankind". With the completion of Zhongshan Station, the mainland has gradually embarked on a new exploration and new journey into the hinterland of Antarctica.

No one arrives, new regions, new areas, Chinese advance into the depths again and again. the first to enter the interior of Antarctica, 300 kilometers deep into the ice sheet; the second entry into the interior of Antarctica, advancing nearly 500 kilometers into the ice sheet; The third time into the interior of Antarctica, driving more than 1100 kilometers into the ice cap...

In the 21st century, polar exploration has entered the fast lane of development, and the technical level of ships, aircraft, snowmobiles, telephones, networks, new station areas, whether it is transportation or communication tools, has been greatly improved. The need for scientific expeditions inland, the highest point of the Antarctic ice sheet, and the call for a research station, is getting stronger.

On December 12, 2004, 13 members of China's 21st Antarctic Expedition drove four snowmobiles and pulled more than 100 tons of materials to start China's 4th Antarctic Inland Expedition. They overcame difficulties such as high cold, lack of oxygen, transportation, etc., and after nearly 40 days of arduous trekking, they found Ice Dome A, the highest point of the Antarctic ice sheet, at an altitude of 4,093 meters. For the first time, the "inaccessible pole of human beings" left human footprints and Chinese footprints.

Tired, cold, excited and mixed with happiness, the team members couldn't help but shed tears of mixed feelings: "A stone in my heart has finally landed." ”

On December 18, 2008, 28 inland members of China's 25th Antarctic Expedition, driving eight snowmobiles, once again headed for Ice Dome A, where they were to build the mainland's first Antarctic inland research station with only a time window of more than 20 days.

Between the ice and snow, the team members traveled day and night for 20 days, penetrated more than 1,200 kilometers inland, burned the plaster, fought ice fighting ice and snow to build the station area, and finally built the first inland research station in mainland China and the sixth in the world - Kunlun Station on January 27, 2009. The completion of Kunlun Station marks the realization of the historic leap of the continental Antarctic expedition from the edge of the Antarctic continent to the key area of the Antarctic interior.

Five years later, the Taishan Station in Antarctica, China, was completed and became a transit hub between Zhongshan Station and Kunlun Station. Four years later, China's 34th Antarctic Expedition broke ground for the fifth Antarctic research station on Rossheimenksburg Island in West Antarctica.

In May 2017, the 40th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting opened in Beijing. China hosted the Antarctic Treaty for the first time since it joined the Antarctic Treaty in 1983 and became a consultative party to the Antarctic Treaty in 1985. At the meeting, the mainland proposed the Antarctic "green expedition" initiative, and for the first time released a white paper Antarctic business development report - "China's Antarctic Cause".

While the Antarctic expedition was in full swing, the continental Arctic expedition was also carried out in parallel.

Located in the northern hemisphere, China is the closest country to the Arctic outside the eight countries around the Arctic, and is affected by the Arctic environment and climate. China should have a say in Arctic affairs.

On July 1, 1999, the polar research ship "Xuelong" set sail for its first scientific expedition mission to the North Pole. The first Arctic expedition was fruitful, collecting a large amount of data and gaining a direct understanding of the Arctic.

Five years later, with the active efforts of all parties, the first scientific research station in the Chinese Arctic, the Yellow River Station of the Chinese Arctic, was completed and put into use in New Ålsund, Spitsbergen Islands, Norway.

On February 7, 2018, the mainland established the China-Iceland Joint Aurora Observatory (later renamed the China Ice Arctic Scientific Expedition) in Iceland, providing large-scale comprehensive observation facilities for research for the two countries to carry out aurora physics cooperation, helping to fill the gap of China's night aurora observation. In the same year, the Information Office of the State Council published the first white paper on Arctic policy, China's Arctic Policy, which introduced China's policy objectives, basic principles and main policy propositions for participating in Arctic affairs.

In October 2019, under the leadership of the Party Group of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the first polar scientific research icebreaker "Xuelong 2" independently built by China made its maiden voyage to Antarctica, opening a new era of "Double Dragon Exploration".

Although the blue strands of the road are difficult, the original intention does not change but calmly. From scratch to large, China's polar expedition has forged ahead step by step, and now has 6 research stations in the North and South Poles, as well as icebreaker fleets, snow convoys and fixed-wing aircraft, entering the three-dimensional era of comprehensive investigation.

In the past 40 years, the level of rule of law in the mainland polar region has been steadily improved, relevant polar plans have been formulated and implemented, and national Antarctic legislation has been promoted in an orderly manner. In Antarctica, basic scientific research has been carried out continuously, a number of important achievements with international influence have been achieved in many fields such as marine ecology and ice sheet stability, the level of research in some fields is leading in the world, the number of tourists to Antarctica has jumped from the tenth to the second place in the world, and has successively served as an important role and position such as the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Party, the member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, and the founding member of the Council of Directors of the National Antarctic Administration. In the Arctic, significant results have been achieved in the development and utilization of Arctic shipping routes and resources, and by 2022, 56 voyages of commercial use of the Northeast Passage in the Arctic have been completed. The national observation and monitoring network for the north and south poles has been initially established.

Entering the three oceans

The vast three oceans and mysterious underwater world contain rich resources and countless unsolved mysteries. In order to fulfill the responsibilities of a major country and make positive contributions to mankind's further understanding of the ocean, the diligent and courageous Chinese people have carried out arduous explorations since the founding of New China.

In the last two decades of the 20th century, the mainland carried out a number of major marine scientific survey missions, such as the first global atmospheric experiment of the United Nations Meteorological Organization, the joint investigation of the sea-air interaction between China and the United States and the western Pacific Ocean, the Kuroshio survey between China and Japan, and the environmental and survey and research voyage of the Northwest Pacific, providing valuable information for occupying the first polymetallic nodule application area in the Northeast Pacific Circle.

International waters refer to the high seas and international seabed areas beyond national jurisdiction, and are the main body of the deep sea, accounting for about 64% of the world's ocean area, with vast space and rich resources. In April 1990, the State Council agreed to apply to the United Nations Seabed Preparatory Committee for the registration of mining areas in the name of the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association, and to make special investment in the exploration and development of oceanic polymetallic nodule resources as a long-term national development project. The following year, the China Ocean Association was established.

In the 21st century, international maritime space has become an important area for competition among countries. In May 2001, the China Ocean Association and the International Seabed Authority signed the International Contract for Exploration of Seabed Polymetallic Nodule Resources in Beijing, which specifies in legal form that the mainland has exclusive exploration rights and preferential commercial exploitation rights for polymetallic nodules in the 75,000 square kilometers contract area. This became the continent's first contract area for exploration of the international seabed area.

With the in-depth development of international seabed resources survey and research, the demand for manned submersibles is becoming more and more urgent. China, to build its own manned submersible, to a depth of 7,000 meters.

On June 11, 2002, the Ministry of Science and Technology approved the "Request for Launching a Major Special Project for 7,000-meter Manned Submersibles". The State Oceanic Administration, as the organizing department of the project, is responsible for the overall work. After several years of arduous efforts, with the cooperation of many departments, the manned submersible is finally a late bloomer.

From 2009 to 2012, the mainland's first large-depth manned submersible "Jiaolong" carried out 1,000-meter, 3,000-meter, 5,000-meter and 7,000-meter sea trials in different sea areas.

On June 24, 2012, when the test sailors received the news from the bottom of the sea that "the 'Jiaolong' dived to a depth of more than 7,000 meters, reached 7,015 meters, and the equipment and personnel in the cabin were in good condition", the ship's on-site command applauded thunderously and endured. The commander-in-chief on the scene could not hide the excitement in his heart and blurted out: "This is a team of heroes!" ”

Exploring 80,000 Li Across the Three Oceans -- A Review of the Achievements of Scientific Expeditions to China's Polar Oceans

In June 2012, the 7,000-meter-class sea trial of the "Jiaolong" dived into the water for the fourth time, splashing a beautiful butterfly flower. Photo by Zhao Jiandong

On the same day, mainland astronauts completed a hand-controlled rendezvous and docking mission in space. Three test pilots and three astronauts sent congratulations and greetings at the bottom of the sea and in space, respectively. "You can go up to the moon for nine days, you can go down to the five oceans to catch turtles", Chinese's dream of exploring the sea and flying dreams have achieved an epic intersection between the deepest seabed and distant space.

The success of the 7,000-meter-class sea test of the "Jiaolong" has achieved a new breakthrough and a major leap, marking that the mainland's deep-sea manned technology has reached the international leading level, enabling the mainland to carry out scientific research and resource exploration in 99.8% of the world's ocean depths, which has greatly stimulated the self-confidence and pride of the Chinese nation. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council made a decision on commending manned deep diving heroes and manned deep diving heroes, and awarded the "Jiaolong" manned submersible 7,000-meter sea trial team the honorary title of "manned deep diving hero collective".

After the completion of sea tests, the "Jiaolong" was transferred to the experimental application stage. In the five-year experimental application, the "Jiaolong" rushed to the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, dived into the seamount, cold spring area, hydrothermal area and mid-ocean ridge, explored the exploration area of polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides exploration area, polymetallic sulfide investigation area, and cobalt-rich crusts exploration area, showing "eighteen weapons", successfully completed the task again and again, and many scientists took the "Jiaolong" to witness the wonderful underwater world.

In 2017, after the completion of the experimental application voyage, the National Deep Sea Base Management Center launched the overall performance technology upgrade of the "Jiaolong". The comprehensive overhaul lasted more than a year, and the "Jiaolong" completed a total of 9 major technical upgrades, including the life-cycle monitoring of manned spherical shell structures.

After the establishment of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the new mother ship "Shenhai-1" of the "Jiaolong" and the oceanic comprehensive resource survey vessel "Dayang" were also completed and put into trial operation in 2019, which greatly improved the detailed survey capability of the mainland's deep-sea ocean.

Major breakthroughs have been made in deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining technology, which has attracted much attention. In 2021, the deep-sea polymetallic nodule mining test team completed 100-meter, 300-meter and 1,000-meter sea trial tasks, realizing the world's first "self-propelled seabed collection + pipeline lifting and transportation" overall mining linkage test.

After years of hard work, the space for mainland ocean activities has been continuously expanded, and 5 exploration contract areas have been obtained in the international seabed area of the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, with a total area of 235,000 square kilometers, the largest in the world; the investigation and exploration of resources and environment has been steadily advanced, and nearly 80 voyages have been organized and surveyed, forming a survey pattern of "multi-resource, multi-discipline, multi-sea area and multi-ship operation"; The development of deep-sea science and technology has achieved breakthroughs, and a large number of samples and materials obtained by investigation have promoted the development of deep-sea geoscience, achieved a breakthrough in deep-sea prospecting theory, and the "Jiaolong", "Deep-sea Warrior" and "Striver" manned submersibles independently developed by the mainland, "Sea Dragon", "Seahorse" and "Hidden Dragon" unmanned submersibles and deep-sea shallow drills, submarine TV cameras, hydrothermal rapid detection systems and other investigation equipment have become the main force of mainland deep-sea surveys, and some fields of deep-sea mineral resources development, metallurgy, processing and comprehensive utilization technology have entered the forefront of the world; He has been deeply involved in international maritime affairs, participated in the discussion and formulation of international rules such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, fully participated in the construction of the International Seabed Authority, and has become a major participant and advocate from a rule-adaptor, mainland experts have been continuously elected as members of the Legal and Technical Committee and Finance Committee of the International Seabed Authority, and more than 100 naming proposals submitted by China have been reviewed by the International Seabed Geographical Entity Nomenclature Committee, and Chinese elements and influences have been reflected; The comprehensive support capacity has been continuously enhanced, the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Exploration and Development of Resources in the Deep Sea Seabed Area has been promulgated and implemented, the construction of supporting laws and regulations has been gradually improved, the ocean survey fleet has become large, and the comprehensive support platform such as the China Ocean Sample Hall has achieved operational operation.

The vast ocean is vast and far, riding the wind and waves and then setting sail. In the new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics, polar and oceanic work has embarked on a new journey, shouldering a new mission, and will take Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as a powerful ideological weapon to understand and transform the world, constantly open up new fields and create new achievements, and make greater contributions to promoting the reform and development of natural resources and comprehensively building a modern socialist country.

Source: China Natural Resources News Author: Zhao Jiandong New Media Editor: Yan Qian

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