A 19,000-tonne Chinese cargo ship has become the country's first to use the Northeast Passage to travel to Europe.
The vessel, owned by shipping giant Cosco, left the Chinese port city of Dalian on Thursday making its way to Rotterdam on a route now navigable for several months of the year due to global warming.
Reuters reported that the route that connects east Asia to Europe, also known as the Northern Sea Route, "is opening for longer and longer each year."
Receding ice has led to record Arctic shipping this year, and while 2010 saw just four vessels navigate the Northern Sea Route, that number surged to over 200 so far in 2013.
In its State of the Climate in 2012 report released this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that the "unprecedented change" occurring in the Arctic was the "major story of 2012."