A member of the Chinese scientific researcher team waves before boarding the research vessel and icebreaker Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon", in Shanghai, east China, July 20, 2017. China's ice breaker, the Xuelong, set sail on Thursday for the country's first circumnavigation of the Arctic rim. (Xinhua/Fang Zhe)
SHANGHAI, July 20 (Xinhua) -- China's ice breaker, the Xuelong, which means "Snow Dragon," set sail on Thursday for the country's first circumnavigation of the Arctic rim, scientists said.
The ice-breaker departed from an exploration base in Shanghai early on Thursday. The journey is China's eighth Arctic expedition.
Lin Shanqing, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration, said the expedition is another milestone in the country's polar exploration efforts.
"Usually, Arctic expeditions are carried out once every two years. Starting this year, we plan to increase the frequency of expeditions," said Lin.
The ship will travel 20,000 nautical miles in 83 days, with 96 members on board.
Captain of the vessel, Shen Quan, said that the Snow Dragon will travel the northwest shipping lane along the Arctic rim for the first time. The route has more ice than the northeast shipping lane.
Researchers will study navigation, marine bio-diversity, hydrology, biology, geology, chemistry and pollution around the Arctic.
The Ukraine-built vessel, which was put into use in 1994, is mainly designed to transport supplies to China's research stations. It can break ice up to 1.2 meters thick.
China has focused on cooperation and sharing information in polar research. The Chinese National Arctic and Antarctic Data Center has provided data for more than 100 international projects and more than 10 countries.