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Icebreaker Xuelong to head for Arctic expedition

(Xinhua)

08:16, June 27, 2012

SHANGHAI, June 26 (Xinhua) -- China's icebreaker Xuelong, or "Snow Dragon," is set to kick off the country's fifth Arctic expedition from the port city of Qingdao on July 2.

The vessel will leave its Shanghai base Wednesday for Qingdao, Shandong province, and be berthed there for four days before its journey to the Arctic, said a spokesman with the Qingdao city government at a news conference held Tuesday.

The expedition will be undertaken by a 120-member team, including researchers, coordinators, support staff, reporters and the crew of the icebreaker, as well as four scientists from France, Denmark and Iceland and another from Taiwan, according to the spokesman.

Xuelong, an A-2 class icebreaker capable of breaking ice 1.2 meters thick, is estimated to travel over 17,000 nautical miles during its 90-day voyage. It is scheduled to return to Shanghai on Sept. 29.

Researchers plan to conduct various scientific research tasks during the expedition, including surveys on the arctic oceanic environment, ecosystem and geophysical field.

In early April, the icebreaker completed the country's 28th Antarctic expedition after covering 28,000 nautical miles in 163 days.

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