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In Brief

Sailing Yacht Crosses Northwest Passage

Tara ship
The Tara research expedition sailing yacht enters the Northwest Passage on Sept. 27, 2013. (Image credit: V.Hilaire/Tara Expéditions)

With help from a Canadian icebreaker, a research ship exploring the Arctic Ocean crossed the frozen Northwest Passage on Sept. 28. The escort keeps the expedition on track for its 7-month Arctic journey, according the Tara blog. The iced-over Northwest Passage — the first time it's frozen shut since 2007 — meant researchers aboard Tara were considering waiting through the winter at a northern port or retracing their path next year, the blog said.

The Tara sailing yacht has already spent several months plying the polar seas, sampling plankton and studying the Arctic ecosystem. The expedition's scientific goals include monitoring pollution and looking at how melting ice affects marine life. The voyage began on May 19 from Lorient, France. The position of the boat can be followed on Google Earth.

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Becky Oskin
Becky Oskin covers Earth science, climate change and space, as well as general science topics. Becky was a science reporter at Live Science and The Pasadena Star-News; she has freelanced for New Scientist and the American Institute of Physics. She earned a master's degree in geology from Caltech, a bachelor's degree from Washington State University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz.