China Sends Icebreaker to Arctic for Research, Creates History

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For the first time in China’s history, the ice breaker, Xuelong (Snow Dragon), finished crossing the central Arctic area. This is the vessel’s eighth Arctic expedition, but the first attempt to sail the Arctic rim.

Built in Ukraine in 1993, Xuelong boasts a data processing centre and seven laboratories with a total area of 200 square meters. It has three smaller boats and a helicopter.

The vessel is currently on a 83-day Arctic rim expedition mission that began on July 20, with 96 crew members including scientists and Arctic and oceanographic researchers.

According to Xinhua News Agency, speaking at a press conferance in Shanghai before departure, Chief scientist of the expedition team, Xu Ren, said the voyage would focus on a series of frontier scientific research on marine biology, meteorology, geology and chemistry, such as ocean acidification and plastic pollution in the sea.

CGTN stated that the scientists did seven “short term ice station works” from August 2 to August 10. The original plan was not disclosed to reporters. However, it is known that for China, there are three main objectives in the Arctic; research, natural resources and new trade routes.

The crew did not completely follow their original plan in order to save more time for activities in the central Arctic area. The back-up plan was also carried out due to weather conditions, scientists told China Central Television. According to the modified schedule, the team will enter Canada’s exclusive economic zone on August 29.