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Chinese ice-breaker crosses the Atlantic to Iceland

A Chinese icebreaker has crossed the Atlantic via the northern sea route along the Russian coast for the first time, finishing its journey to Iceland on 17 August.

The approximately 15,000 kilometre journey from Quingdao in China to Iceland took the vessel, Xuelong or Snow Dragon, six weeks. The crossing was made possible by record low levels of sea-ice.

The expedition’s aim was to study changing marine conditions in the Arctic and their impact on China’s climate. Expedition leader Huigen Yang said Beijing was interested in the “monumental change” in the polar environment caused by global warming, Reuters news agency reported.

The icebreaker’s visit to Iceland was the first formal visit to an Arctic country by a Chinese Arctic expedition. Chinese news sources said a memorandum was signed for the establishment of a joint polar light observation station in northern Iceland.

China also announced the establishment of an international Arctic cooperation and research institute in Shanghai, according to China’s Xinhua news agency.