or Barents, Willem both: vĭ´ləm bä´rənts [key], d. 1597, Dutch navigator. He made three voyages (1594, 1595, 1596–97) in search of the Northeast Passage to Asia. He reached Novaya Zemlya on the first two expeditions. On the third he accidentally discovered Spitsbergen, rounded the north point of Novaya Zemlya, and was caught in the ice. After the arctic winter the crew started for the mainland in two small boats. Barentz died on the way. The extent of his explorations and the accuracy of his charts made him one of the most important of all arctic explorers. The meteorological data that Barentz collected are still consulted today.
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