New Antarctic stations

Kunlun Station at Dome A
Kunlun Station at Dome A (Photo: Xia Limin, CHINARE)
Princess Elisabeth Station, Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica

China's Kunlun Station opens at Dome A

China's s third Antarctic station, constructed at Dome Argus (Dome A) in the Australian Antarctic Territory, officially began operation on 2 February 2009. Kunlun Station, part of China's International Polar Year legacy, is intended to have a life span of 25 years and will accommodate up to 25 people. Situated at the highest point on the Antarctic ice sheet (4093 m), Kunlun will initially only operate in summer, but over the next decade additional facilities, including a solar-panel array, will enable it to operate year-round. Research at the station will include the exploration of deep glacier ice cores and mountains under the Antarctic ice, astronomical and terrestrial magnetic observations, and studying the effects of extreme weather on human psychology and physiology. In 2008 Australia coordinated the international review, by the Antarctic Treaty's Committee for Environmental Protection, of China's Comprehensive Environmental Evaluation report for Kunlun Station. 

First 'zero emission' Antarctic station

Belgium opened the world's first 'zero emission' polar science station in Antarctica on February 15 this year as part of its International Polar Year legacy. The Princess Elisabeth Station – an octagonal, steel structure on stilts, which sits on a ridge just north of the Sør Rondane Mountains, in Dronning Maud Land, East Antarctica – is energy self-sufficient and does not emit any carbon dioxide. Its roof is covered by solar panels, designed to provide one third of the energy needed to run the isolated post, while the rest will come from large wind turbines. The station also uses bioreactors, based on technology developed by the space industry, to recycle 100% of its wastewater up to five times, before disposal. The station's expected lifespan is 25 years. It will provide a base for research into climatology, glaciology, microbiology, geology, astronomy, gravimetry and more. Scientists from around the world have already used the station during the 2008-09 Antarctic season. Conceived and built by the International Polar Foundation (IPF), the station will be run by a Polar Secretariat, a public-private partnership between the IPF and the Belgian Government.