Australia plans new runway to give Antarctic research base year-round flight access

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/5/18 12:50:16

After more than two years of detailed research, the Australian government has decided on a location for a new permanent runway near the country's Davis Research Station in East Antarctica.

In a joint statement on Friday, foreign minister Julie Bishop and environment minister Josh Frydenberg said the new runway will give year round flight access to the important research base.

"Access to Antarctica in winter is difficult and rare, with temperatures dropping to minus 40 degrees celsius at Davis Station," the statement said.

"This new runway will complement Australia's existing summer-only ice runway at Wilkins Aerodrome, and will provide more reliable access to Antarctica throughout the year, improving our ability to conduct year-round, world-class scientific research and respond to emergencies."

As well as being a major boost for the icy continent, the Australian government is also hoping its 10 million Australian (7.5 million US) dollar investment will have far reaching benefits to the country itself.

"The establishment of the permanent link between Hobart and Antarctica will enhance Hobart's role as a gateway to East Antarctica, making it a more attractive destination for Antarctic nations to base their operations in Tasmania," the statement said.

Built as a multidisciplinary research base, the Davis Station facilitates many different scientific projects including the study of viruses and bacteria, marine programs, atmospheric research and the examination of climate change.

Nations with similar stations nearby like China, Russian and India have also expressed interest in using the runway when it becomes operational, the official said.

At this stage however, no timeline of completion has been finalised.

Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC

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