As a Helmholtz centre for polar and marine research the Alfred Wegener institute works above all in the cold and temperate regions of the world. Together with numerous national and international partners we are involved to decipher the complicated processes in the "system of earth". Our planet is in a radical climate change. The pole areas and seas change. At the same time they play a central role in the global climate system. How does the planet earth develop? Do we observe short-term variations or long-term trends? Polar and marine research has always been a fascinating scientific challenge. Today it is also a piece of futurology.