Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean – one of the early warning systems of global environmental changes. It is mostly covered by ice. However, with the influx of warmer water and increasing air temperatures, the sea ice declines – in the extent and also in the thicknes.

But there are even more problems. Ocean acidification for example which is called "the evil little brother of global warming". Additionaly the Arctic Ocean becomes increasingly polluted with plastic litter, even on the ocean floor. Therefore the AWI explores the Arctic Ocean interdisciplinary. This page compiles all interesting articles from the different subject areas.

Map of the Arctic
Map of the Arctic (Graphic:

Mission in the Arctic ice

What is the role of sea ice as an element of the climate system? Is sea ice an indicator for climate changes? Is it possible to conclude from changes in sea ice to climate changes?

All these are questions that we aim to answer with our work in the sea-ice physics section. Here you can see how we approached our main questions during a summer expedition into the Arctic with the research vessel Polarstern.


Adventure in the Ice

The MOSAiC Expedition

Adventure in the Ice

Two-and-a-half years from now, the research vessel Polarstern will depart on an adventurous expedition. For an entire year, the ship will drift through the Arctic, stuck in the pack ice. Using this approach, the researchers hope to gain new insights into climate change.

Sunken logs form diverse and dynamic habitats

Knocking on wood in the deep sea

Sunken logs form diverse and dynamic habitats

The deep sea is a vast and seemingly uninhabitable place, except for some small oases of life. Sunken wood logs, so-called wood falls, can form such oases and provide for rich life for limited periods. A new study by researchers from the MPI Bremen takes a close look at the deep-sea organisms inhabiting wood falls and how they affect their surroundings. They show that sunken logs are highly dynamic ecosystems and play an important role for the diversity and distribution of bacteria and animals alike.

German Arctic Office to act as consultant to politics and industry

Scientific consultation

German Arctic Office to act as consultant to politics and industry

The rapid climate changes in the Arctic are no longer just the domain of scientists. The shrinking sea ice and collapsing permafrost coasts are now also becoming topics on the agenda of international politics and industry. To be able to offer direct scientific advice to decision-makers, the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) has now set up an office for Arctic affairs at its Potsdam site. The German Arctic Office officially commenced work on 1 January 2017 and draws its expertise from a network of scientists from all German research institutes working on Arctic topics.