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According to Sergei Balyasnikov of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg, the 21 researchers and two dogs will be taken off the North Pole-35 station in the western Arctic Ocean this week instead of in late August as originally planned.
During its westward drift of more than 1,550 miles, the ice floe has shrunk to just 1,000 by 2,000 feet.
The nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika will escort the research vessel Mikhail Somov to the station, which is drifting between the Franz Josef Land archipelago and the island of Novaya Zemlya in the western Arctic.

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Twenty Russian scientists are to be evacuated from their camp on a drifting ice-floe in the Arctic after it started disintegrating sooner than expected.

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The drifting station research unit 'North Pole-35' at 81.26 north latitude, 103.30 east longitude. was set up in the Arctic  on  Friday.

"The research unit will begin work by sending the first weather-report to the Global Weather Network" - Sergei Balyasnikov, a spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, adding that the Russian and St Petersburg flags would also be hoisted.

22 researchers and scientists would work at the unit, most of them Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) staff, plus a German scientist from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research.
The unit was set up on a 3.3km-wide and 5km-long ice-floe with an average ice thickness of 1.5m.
A suitable ice-floe  for the unit could not be located until September 18, when the Akademik Fedorov scientific-expedition ship, following in the path of  the Rossiya nuclear-powered  ice-breaker, discovered an area with a two-year build up of ice.
The research unit was set up during the third stage of the Arctic-2007 expedition carried out by Russian scientists as part as International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, a campaign focusing on the exploration of the Earth's polar regions. The expedition will provide a better understanding of global climate change, as well as more precise weather forecasts.
The station will operate for about one year. It will be drifting slowly towards the Fram Strait.

The Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) statement said the unit was set up 70 years after the first NP-1 (North Pole-1), headed by Ivan Papanin, began its work. Over the years these research units have spent 29,726 days and covered 172,163 kilometres in the Arctic Ocean.

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