MURMANSK, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - An international expedition is due to set off from the north Russian port of Murmansk Wednesday to follow the North East Passage around the Russian coast to highlight global warming, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The North East Passage, now known as the Northern Sea Route, is a shipping lane running along Russia's Far Eastern and Siberian coasts that is usually only free of ice for around eight weeks a year, however, the affects of global warming are causing ice to retreat opening up previously closed maritime routes.
In 1878 Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskjold made the first successful attempt to completely navigate the North East Passage from west to east as part of the Vega expedition.
"This current expedition dedicated to the 130th anniversary of outstanding scientist and Arctic explorer Nils Adolf Erik Nordenskjold's expedition, will visit several wildlife reserves, polar stations and commemorative places," Mikhail Shumatsov said.
The expedition is headed by Viktor Boyarsky, the director of the Russian State Museum of Arctic and Antarctic, and Swedish polar explorer Ola Skinnarmo. Also taking part is the leader of the WWF International Arctic Programme, Neil Hamilton, and the WWF polar bear coordinator Geoff York along with scientists and climate change experts.
The carbon-neutral expedition will set sail from Murmansk on a 62-foot reinforced sailboat the Explorer of Sweden.