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Southern Ocean

Biological studies on the shelves off the Antarctic Peninsula

Results from a Polarstern cruise published in a special issue of the journal Polar Biology

[20. May 2016] 

The waters around the Antarctic Peninsula are characterized by significant environmental changes and pronounced natural gradients in physical characteristics. The journal Polar Biology has now dedicated a special issue to this region. The articles in the issue report a wide range of results on the ecology of the Southern Ocean.


Southern Ocean

Research vessel Polarstern expected in Bremerhaven

Antarctic season ends in the home port after half a year

[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 was the focus. In addition, the expedition members provided logistical support for a research camp there.

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New Ice Age Knowledge

Pacific stores the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide at depths of thousands of metres

Researchers solve one of the great scientific mysteries of the ice ages

Crew members pull a corer on board the German research vessel SONNE.This image was taken during the expedition SO-213.
[10. May 2016] 

An international team of researchers headed by scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute has gained new insights into the carbon dioxide exchange between ocean and atmosphere, thus making a significant contribution to solving one of the great scientific mysteries of the ice ages. In the past 800,000 years of climate history, the transitions from interglacials and ice ages were always accompanied by a significant reduction in the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere. It then fell from 280 to 180 ppm (parts per million). Where this...


Southern Ocean

Daily up and down of the plankton animals in the sea

New study on the migration behaviour of zooplankton and its diurnal and annual cycles

[04. May 2016] 

A unique series of measurements taken over several years in the Antarctic Ocean provide new findings about the daily vertical migration of zooplankton communities: scientists of the Thünen Institute of Sea Fisheries in Hamburg and the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven observed changes during the year and between years. The Antarctic zooplankton is the main source of food for many fish and whale species, including the largest mammal in the world, the blue whale.


Arctic sea ice

The Arctic is facing a decline in sea ice that might equal the negative record of 2012

Data collected by the CryoSat-2 satellite reveal large amounts of thin ice that are unlikely to survive the summer

Arctic sea ice in summer 2015. This photo was made during an expedition of the German research icebreaker Polarstern into the central Arctic Ocean.
[21. April 2016] 

Sea ice physicists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), are anticipating that the sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean this summer may shrink to the record low of 2012. The scientists made this projection after evaluating current satellite data about the thickness of the ice cover. The data show that the arctic sea ice was already extraordinarily thin in the summer of 2015. Comparably little new ice formed during the past winter. Today Dr Marcel Nicolaus, expert on sea ice, has presented...


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