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Arctic melting shortens China-Europe sea route

The melting of ice in the Arctic Ocean will offer a shortcut for China's commercial fleets to reach Europe and North America after Shanghai-based icebreaker Xuelong tried a new route to the North Pole on its fifth Arctic expedition.

The ship with 119 Chinese and foreign scientists on broad returned to Shanghai today after a 93-day exploration to collect data on climate change, marine environment and Arctic natural resources.

"The melting of sea ice is a threat to Arctic wildlife and global climate but it also offers an opportunity to develop new shipping routes," said Weng Lixin, deputy director of the Polar Research Institute of China. "If navigating via the Northern Sea, the distance between Shanghai and Hamburg will be shortened by one third."

He said Xuelong travelled the route on her fifth expedition and collected a lot of navigation and climate data.

Officials said they are designing the country's second icebreaker which will be put into use in 2014.


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