Russia, China to do joint research in Arctic Siberia

Russia’s Northern Sea Route is an increasing focus for Russia. The China-Russia Arctic Research Center says more climate science in Arctic Siberia will better help guide development of the route. (iStock)
Chinese and Russian scientists part of the China-Russia Arctic Research Center have announced their first joint project together will be in Arctic Siberia.

“The goal of the first joint expedition will be to study Russia’s Siberian Arctic shelf, the largest shelf system in the world, connecting the Arctic and Pacific Ocean and acting as a kind of natural “ice generator,” said a news release from the  P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences on Monday. 

The research projects will cover everything from marine geography and chemistry, to topography, currents and greenhouse gases, as well as the European basin of the Laptev Sea, an area the news release described as an “area not previously studied.”

The Center says the data collected will help better understand how climate change is affecting the Arctic in the region as well as the development of the Northern Sea Route.

The Vladimir Rusanov, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker ship, is seen following its arrival at the in Nantong, China in 2018 from Russia’s Yamal LNG plant in the Siberian Arctic after travelling the Northern Sea Route. Russia’s Novatek, France’s Total and China’s CNPC are partners in the project. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

The Siberian projects are the first joint research announcements since China’s Pilot National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology (Qingdao) (QNLM) signed an agreement with the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of Russian Academy of Sciences (IO RAS) in April this year to form the China-Russia Arctic Research Center (CRARC).

This week’s research announcements mirror the priorities set out by the QNLM and the IO RAS when the formation of the Center was announced. 

Importance of acquiring data on the Northern Sea Route

In the news release at the time, the two institutes stressed the importance of better understanding the environmental changes in the region as shipping and development become an increasing focus in the Russian Arctic.

“The obtained results will contribute to accurate prediction of ice conditions at the Northern Sea Route and providing recommendations for environmentally sound development of the Arctic region being intensively developed,” the QNLM and the IO RAS said in a news release at the time. 

China has become increasingly active in the Arctic in recent years. In 2018, it issued an Arctic White Paper that laid out the country’s plans for massive investments and infrastructure projects in the North, establishing a so-called ‘Polar Silk Road.’ China has also been an Arctic Council observer country since 2013.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Japan scopes out future Arctic research in Cambridge Bay, Northern Canada, CBC News

Finland: Lake waters in Finland exceptionally warm after record temperatures, Yle News

Greenland: July may surpass hottest month in recorded history says World Meteorological Organization, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland glacier lost to climate change to get memorial ceremony this month, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Russia, China step up talks over Arctic shipping, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: China’s COSCO planning ‘several’ shipments along Northern Sea Route, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s emissions are rising instead of falling, Radio Sweden

United States: China, Russia singled out in new U.S. Arctic defense strategy, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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