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Drifting ice station


Drifting ice station

Ivan Papanin on the North Pole-1 drifting ice station.

Soviet and Russian manned drifting ice stations are important contributors to exploration of the Arctic. The stations are named North Pole (Russian: «Северный полюс») (NP, (Russian: «СП»)), followed by an ordinal number: "North Pole-1,"... etc.


  • Overview 1
  • History 2
  • Past stations 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


"NP" stations carry out the program of complex year-round research in the fields of oceanology, ice studies, meteorology, aerology, geophysics, hydrochemistry, hydrophysics, and marine biology. On average, an "NP" station is the host for 600 to 650 ocean depth measurements, 3500 to 3900 complex meteorology measurements, 1200 to 1300 temperature measurements and sea water probes for chemical analysis, 600 to 650 research balloon launches. Magnetic, ionosphere, ice and other observations are also carried out there. Regular measurements of the ice flow coordinates provide the data on the direction and speed of its drift.

The modern "NP" drifting ice station resembles a small settlement with housing for polar explorers and special buildings for the scientific equipment. Usually an "NP" station begins operations in April and continues for two or three years until the ice floe reaches the Greenland Sea. Polar explorers are substituted yearly. Since 1937 some 800 people were drifting at "NP" stations.

There are two groups of "NP" stations:

  • stations, drifting on the pack ice (i.e. relatively thin and short-lived ice):"NP-1" through "NP-5", "NP-7" through "NP-17", "NP-20", "NP-21"
  • stations, drifting on ice islands (glacier fragments, that were split from the shore): "NP-6", "NP-18", "NP-19", "NP-22".

All "NP" stations are organized by the Russian (former Soviet) Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI).


An idea to use the drift ice for the exploration of nature in the high latitudes of the Arctic Ocean belongs to Fridtjof Nansen, who fulfilled it on Fram between 1893 and 1896. The first stations to use drift ice as means of scientific exploration of the Arctic originated in the Soviet Union in 1937, when the first such station in the world, North Pole-1, started operations.[1]

North Pole-1 was established on May 21, 1937 some 20 km from the North Pole by the expedition into the high latitudes Sever-1, led by Otto Schmidt. "NP-1" operated for 9 months, during which the ice floe travelled 2,850 kilometres. On February 19, 1938, Soviet ice breakers Taimyr and Murman took off four polar explorers from the station, who immediately became famous in the USSR and were awarded titles Hero of the Soviet Union: hydrobiologist Pyotr Shirshov, geophysicist Yevgeny Fyodorov, radioman Ernst Krenkel and their leader Ivan Papanin.

Since 1954 Soviet "NP" stations worked continuously, with one to three such stations operating simultaneously each year. The total distance drifted between 1937 and 1973 was over 80,000 kilometres. North Pole-22 is particularly notable for its record drift, lasting nine years. On June 28, 1972 the ice floe with North Pole-19 passed over the North Pole for the first time ever.

During such long-term observations by "NP" stations, a lot of important discoveries in physical geography were made, valuable conclusions on regularities and the connection between processes in the polar region of the Earth's hydrosphere and atmosphere were obtained. Some of the most important discoveries were finding the deep-water Lomonosov Ridge, which crosses the Arctic Ocean, other large features of the ocean bottom's relief, the discovery of two systems of the drift (circular and "wash-out"), the fact of cyclones' active penetration into the Central Arctic.

The last Soviet "NP" station, North Pole-31, was closed in July 1991.

In the post-Soviet era, Russian exploration of the Arctic by drifting ice stations was suspended for twelve years. The year 2003 was notable for Russia's return into the Arctic. As of 2006, three "NP" stations had carried out scientific measurements and research since then: "NP-32" through "NP-34". The latter was closed on May 25, 2006.

"NP-35" started operations on September 21, 2007 at the point , when flags of Russia and Saint Petersburg were raised there. 22 scientists, led by A.A.Visnevsky are working on the ice floe. Establishment of the station was the third stage of the Arktika 2007 expedition. An appropriate ice floe was searched for from Akademik Fedorov research vessel, accompanied by nuclear icebreaker Russia, using MI-8 helicopters, for a week, until an ice floe with an area of 16 square kilometres was found.[2] The ice has since shrunk significantly, however, and the station is now being abandoned ahead of schedule.[3]

Past stations

Station name Head of the first shift Drift dates Drift coordinates Distance (km)
Began Ended Start Finish
North Pole-1 I.D.Papanin May 21, 1937 February 19, 1938 2,850
North Pole-2 M.M.Somov April 2, 1950 April 11, 1951 2,600
North Pole-3 A.F.Trioshnikov April 4, 1954 April 20, 1955 1,865
North Pole-4 E.I.Tolstikov April 8, 1954 April 19, 1957 6,970
North Pole-5 N.A.Volkov April 21, 1955 October 8, 1956 3,630
North Pole-6 K.A.Sychev April 19, 1956 September 14, 1959 8,650
North Pole-7 V.A.Vedernikov April 23, 1957 April 11, 1959 3,520
North Pole-8 V.M.Rogachyov April 27, 1959 March 19, 1962 6,090
North Pole-9 V.A.Shamontyev April 26, 1960 March 28, 1961 2,660
North Pole-10 N.A.Kornilov October 17, 1961 April 29, 1964 3,960
North Pole-11 N.N.Bryazgin April 16, 1962 April 20, 1963 2,400
North Pole-12 L.N.Belyakov April 30, 1963 April 25, 1965 1,595
North Pole-13 A.Ya. Buzuyev April 22, 1964 April 20, 1967 3,545
North Pole-14 Yu. B.Konstantinov May 1, 1965 February 12, 1966 1,040
North Pole-15 V.V.Panov April 15, 1966 March 25, 1968 2,330
North Pole-16 Yu. B.Konstantinov April 10, 1968 March 22, 1972 5,850
North Pole-17 N.I.Blinov April 18, 1968 October 16, 1969 1,750
North Pole-18 N.N.Ovchinnikov October 9, 1969 October 24, 1971 5,240
North Pole-19 A.N.Chilingarov November 7, 1969 April 16, 1973 6,705
North Pole-20 Yu. P.Tikhonov April 22, 1970 May 17, 1972 3,780
North Pole-21 G.I.Kizino April 30, 1972 May 17, 1974 3,605
North Pole-22 V.G.Moroz September 13, 1973 April 8, 1982 17,069
North Pole-23 V.M.Piguzov December 5, 1975 November 1, 1978 5,786
North Pole-24 I.K.Popov June 23, 1978 November 19, 1980 5,652
North Pole-25 V.S.Sidorov May 16, 1981 April 20, 1984 5,754
North Pole-26 V.S.Sidorov May 21, 1983 April 9, 1986 5,380
North Pole-27 Yu. P.Tikhonov June 2, 1984 May 20, 1987 5,655
North Pole-28 A.F.Chernyshov May 21, 1986 January 23, 1989 7,634
North Pole-29 V.V.Lukin June 10, 1987 August 19, 1988 2,686
North Pole-30 V.M.Piguzov October 9, 1987 April 4, 1991 7,675
North Pole-31 V.S.Sidorov October 22, 1988 July 25, 1991 5,475
North Pole-32 V.S.Koshelev April 25, 2003 March 6, 2004 2,418
North Pole-33 A.A.Visnevsky September 9, 2004 October 5, 2005 3,156
North Pole-34 T.V.Petrovsky September 19, 2005 May 25, 2006 2,032
North Pole-35 Vladimir Chupun[4] September 21, 2007 July 22, 2008 3,614
North Pole-36 Yuri Katrayev September 7, 2008 August 24, 2009 2,905
North Pole-37 Sergey Lesenkov September 7, 2009 May 31, 2010 2,076
North Pole-38 Tomash Petrovskiy October 14, 2010 September 20, 2011 3,024
North Pole-39 Alexander Ipatov October 2, 2011 September 15, 2012 1,885
North Pole-40 Nikolai Fomichev October 1, 2012 June 7, 2013 1,736

See also


  1. ^ "North Pole drifting stations (1930s-1980s)". Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Retrieved April 30, 2009. 
  2. ^ September 21, 2007 Press-Release by AARI
  3. ^ 14 July 2008 news story by the Associated Press
  4. ^ Скалина, Ирина (10 July 2008). """Опасный дрейф; Полярников эвакуируют на судне "Михаил Сомов (web). "Российская газета". Retrieved 2008-07-12. (Russian/English)Skalina, Irina (July 10, 2008). """A dangerous drift; Polarnik evacuated on the ship "Mikhail Somov (web). Google Translation. Rossiyskaya Gazeta. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  • Great Soviet Encyclopedia - for some information in the text and in the table
  • (Russian)"North Pole" scientific research stations drift characteristics at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute - for some information in the table
  • (Russian) History of "North Pole" stations - for some milestones in the exploration
  • I.P. Romanov, Yu. B. Konstantinov, N.A. Kornilov. "North Pole" Drifting Stations (1937–1991), Saint Petersburg:Gidrometeoizdat, 1997, condensed English translation - for heads of "North Pole-23" through "North Pole-31" stations

External links

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