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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Alfred Wegener Institute News

The wind has opened a lead between ice floes. As the white streaks reveal, the water surface is freezing again immediately. The streaks occur when the wind drifts loose ice crystals. Photo IceCamStefan Hendricks, Alfred-Weg

AWI to Track Carbon Particles in the Arctic

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team of researchers will spend the next four weeks studying how the Arctic is changing. In the course of the PAMARCMiP campaign they will measure the sea ice and the atmosphere between Greenland and Svalbard – on the ground, using a tethered balloon, and from the air. Their primary target: carbon particles. Historically, Greenland isn’t exactly considered to be prone to wildfires.

Deployment of a catamaran, taking plankton samples from the water surface. Afterwards these plankton samples are checked for microplastic particles. (Photo Alfred-Wegener-Institut  Gunnar Gerdts)

Pathogenic bacteria hitchhiking to North and Baltic Seas?

For the first time, AWI scientists have found evidence of living, potentially pathogenic vibrions on microplastic particles. With increasing water temperatures comes an increasing likelihood of potentially pathogenic bacteria appearing in the North and Baltic Seas. AWI scientists have now proven that a group of such bacteria known as vibrios can survive on microplastic particles. In the future, they want to investigate in greater detail the role of these particles on the accumulation and possible distribution of these bacteria.

The Roaring Forties Die Bruellenden Vierziger courtesy Alfred Wegener Institute

Breakthrough in Reconstruction of Warm Climate Phases

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have overcome a seeming weakness of global climate models. They had previously not been able to simulate the extreme warm period of the Eocene. One aspect of this era that particularly draws interests to climatologists: It was the only phase in recent history when greenhouse gas concentration was as high as researchers predict it to be for the future. The AWI scientists have now found that the apparent model weakness is due to a misinterpretation of the temperature indicator TEX86.

The German polar research vessel Polarstern off the coast of Spitsbergen. (Foto Sebastian Menze)

RV Polarstern Starts Arctic Season

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) are setting out with the research vessel Polarstern towards Spitsbergen, to use newly developed equipment in the Arctic Ocean. Autonomous instruments on the seabed, in the water column and in the air will complement the long-term measurements of the deep-sea research group. In this way researchers can analyse the climatic changes in the Arctic and their impact on the fauna in the future with higher temporal and spatial resolution.

Research ice breaker Polarstern Photo AWI

Research Vessel Polarstern Returns to Bremerhaven

Antarctic season ends in the homeport after half a year Bremerhaven / Germany, 11 May 2016. on Wednesday, 11 May 2016, the research vessel Polarstern is expected back in its home port of Bremerhaven after a good six months of Antarctic expeditions. In the austral summer, the research vessel of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), penetrated into the southern Weddell Sea as far as the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf, where oceanographic and biological work which the focus.

Integrating Arctic Research - A Roadmap For The Future Photo IASC

Research Priorities Defined for the Arctic

The leading international Arctic research organisations have set common scientific objectives for the coming decade. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic were also involved in this process. Under the auspices of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), which is based at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, they are about to submit a report that sets out the path for a jointly conceived and solution-oriented research agenda on the sustainable development of the Arctic and beyond. The Arctic is the region on earth that reacts most sensitively and most quickly to changes in climate.

West Antarctic Ice Sheet Photo courtesy   Alfred Wegener Institute

West Antarctic Ice Sheet: How Stable is it?

A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The result would be a rise in the global sea level by several metres. A collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may have occurred during the last interglacial period 125,000 years ago, a period when the polar surface temperature was around two degrees Celsius higher than today. This is the result of a series of model simulations which the researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute…

Most surprising finding is that the thermally induced changes at the ocean surface can rapidly spread to affect life in the deep seas Courtesy Alfred Wegener institute

Warm Water Mixing up Life in Arctic

The warming of arctic waters in the wake of climate change is likely to produce radical changes in the marine habitats of the High North. This is indicated by data from long-term observations in the Fram Strait, which researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) have now analysed. Their most important finding: even a short-term influx of warm water into the Arctic Ocean would suffice to fundamentally impact the local symbiotic communities, from the water’s surface down to the deep seas.

Sea ice forms a natural barrier on the Central Arctic Ocean, limiting gas exchange between water and atmosphere Courtesy AWI

Sea Ice Plays Pivotal Role in Arctic Methane Cycle

The ice-covered Arctic Ocean is a more important factor concerning the concentration of the greenhouse gas methane in the atmosphere than previously assumed. Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) report on the newly discovered interactions between the atmosphere, sea ice and the ocean in a recent online study in the journal Nature’s Scientific Reports. Sea ice forms a natural barrier on the Central Arctic Ocean, limiting gas exchange between water and atmosphere.

Dallmann-Expedition 2015

Loss of Diversity Near Melting Coastal Glaciers

Melting glaciers are causing a loss of species diversity among benthos in the coastal waters off the Antarctic Peninsula, impacting an entire seafloor ecosystem. This has been verified in the course of repeated research dives, the results of which were recently published by experts from Argentina, Germany and Great Britain and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in a study in the journal Science Advances. The scientists believe increased levels of suspended sediment in the water to be the cause of the dwindling biodiversity in the coastal region.

On Board Training (Photo A. C. Peralta Brichtova)

Polarstern Embarks for Cape Town on Training Cruise

On 29 October 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport in Bremerhaven for Cape Town, South Africa, where it is expected to arrive on 1 December. It will take 32 students hailing from 19 countries on board, who will be introduced to the latest methods and instruments used in oceanography. Nine instructors from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the FU Berlin and Ireland’s Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology will teach the participants in the “floating summer school”.

Observations of floating anthropogenic litter in the Barents Sea and Fram Strait, Arctic.

Plastic Litter Sea Surface, Even in Arctic

In a new study, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) show for the first time that marine litter can even be found at the sea surface of Arctic waters. Though it remains unclear how the litter made it so far north, it is likely to pose new problems for local marine life, the authors report on the online portal of the scientific journal Polar Biology. Plastic has already been reported from stomachs of resident seabirds and Greenland sharks.

Research icebreaker Polarstern

Polarstern Returns from Arctic

On Wednesday, 14 October 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern from the Alfred-Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), entered its homeport in Bremerhaven. Since mid-May, over 200 biologists, physicists, chemists, ice physicists, oceanographers and geoscientists have taken part in a total of four expeditions, with changes of personnel in Longyearbyen (Spitsbergen) and Tromsø (Norway). In the course of these five months, RV Polarstern covered over 16,000 nautical miles (more than 30,000 kilometres).

Alfred Wegener Institute programmed a Multikopter

Programmed Multikopter Flies Autonomously Through Arctic

How do you get an aircraft in the far reaches of the Arctic Ocean to the goal, if the compass does not provide reliable location data? Engineers aboard the research icebreaker Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute programmed a Multikopter so that he can navigate near the North Pole, despite declination of the Earth's magnetic field. A first successful test flight together with autonomous landing celebrated scientists recently on an ice floe. "The autonomous navigation is in high latitudes is a major challenge…

Photo Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research  Ralf Röchert

Research Vessel Heincke: Serving Science for 25 years

7 July 2015. A quarter of a century old, with over 900,000 kilometres (488,842 nautical miles) logged and still on the cutting edge of science and technology: 8 July 2015 will mark the Research Vessel Heincke’s 25th “birthday”. Staff from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), which operates the Heincke, take part in expeditions with the ship just as often as fellow researchers and students from Germany and abroad. Back in 1990, when Federal Minister of Research Prof Heinz Riesenhuber dedicated the Heincke to the pursuit of scientific research…

To date, the oceans have essentially been the planet’s refrigerator and carbon dioxide storage locker.

Oceans Can’t Take Any more: Researchers Fear Fundamental Change

Our oceans need an immediate and substantial reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. If that doesn’t happen, we could see far-reaching and largely irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, which would especially be felt in developing countries. That’s the conclusion of a new review study published today in the journal Science. In the study, the research team from the Ocean 2015 initiative assesses the latest findings on the risks that climate change poses for our oceans…

Connecting Science with Society

Polar Science Gets a Boost From EU

The €2 million five-year EU-PolarNet programme brings together 22 of Europe’s internationally-respected multi-disciplinary research institutions to develop and deliver an integrated European polar research programme that is supported by access to first-class operational polar infrastructures. EU-PolarNet will involve stakeholders from the outset to create a suite of research proposals whose scientific outcomes are directly relevant and beneficial to European society and its economy. Polar issues have been rising up the political agenda across Europe over the past decade.

RV Polarstern

RV Polarstern Sets Course for Spitsbergen

On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor. RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters…

Polarstern Backdrops Scientific Expedition: Photo credit Alfred Wegener Institute

Arctic Research Ship Scientists on Thin Ice

Return to Bremerhaven: The research vessel 'Polarstern' returns with new findings from the Central Arctic during the 2012 ice minimum. After a good two months. Since its departure from Tromsø (Norway) on 2 August 2012 Polarstern has travelled some 12,000 kilometres and conducted research at 306 stations. These included nine ice stations where the ship moored to an ice floe for several days to examine the ice, the water beneath it and the bottom of the sea. Many measurements were concerned with responses to the rapid retreat of the sea ice this summer.