RUSSIA has ordered the urgent evacuation of the 16-strong crew of a drifting Arctic research station after the ice floe that hosts the floating laboratory began to disintegrate.
The station is currently home to 16 personnel including oceanologists, meteorologists, engineers and a doctor.
It conducts meteorological research, monitors environmental pollution and conducts a number of tests.
If the situation is not addressed, it may also result in the loss of equipment and contaminate the environment near Canada’s economic zone where the station is currently located, the ministry added.
The floating research laboratory will be relocated to Bolshevik Island in the Russian Arctic with the help of an ice-breaker.
"The ice floe has crumbled into six pieces," said Arkady Soshnikov, spokesman for the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. "The people are not at risk but it is not possible to work in these conditions. The ice may disintegrate so a decision has been taken to evacuate" the station, he told AFP.
Scientists point to increasing signs of global warming in the Arctic, which is being significantly affected by climate change.
The UN weather agency said this month the Arctic’s sea ice melted at a record pace in 2012, the ninth-hottest year on record.