The Alfred Wegener Institute carries out research in the Arctic and Antarctic as well as in the high and mid latitude oceans. The institute coordinates German polar research and makes available to national and international science important infrastructure, e.g. the research icebreaker “Polarstern” and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic.
20. August 2014: Record decline of ice sheets: For the first time scientists map elevation changes of Greenlandic and Antarctic glaciers
Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have for the first time extensively mapped Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice sheets with the help of the ESA satellite CryoSat-2 and have thus been able to prove that the ice crusts of both regions momentarily decline at an unprecedented rate. In total the ice sheets are losing around 500 cubic kilometres of ice per year. This ice mass corresponds to a layer that is about 600 metres thick and would stretch out over the entire metropolitan area of Hamburg.
19. August 2014: Has the puzzle of rapid climate change in the last ice age been solved? New report published in Nature shows that small variations in the climate system can result in dramatic temperature changes
Over the past one hundred thousand years cold temperatures largely prevailed over the planet in what is known as the last ice age. However, the cold period was repeatedly interrupted by much warmer climate conditions. Scientists have long attempted to find out why these drastic temperature jumps of up to ten degrees took place in the far northern latitudes within just a few decades. Now, for the first time, a group of researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have been able to reconstruct these climate changes during the last ice age using a series of model simulations. The surprising finding is that minor variations in the ice sheet size can be sufficient to trigger abrupt climate changes. The new study was published online in the scientific journal Nature last week and will be appearing in the 21 August print issue.
15. August 2014: New study on climate history: Arctic sea ice influenced force of the Gulf Stream
The force of the Gulf Stream was significantly influenced by the sea ice situation in the Fram Strait in the past 30,000 years. Scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) come to this conclusion in a new study that appears today in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. On the basis of biomarkers in deposits on the seafloor, the geologists involved managed for the first time to reconstruct when and how the marine region between Greenland and Svalbard was covered with ice in the past and in what way the Gulf Stream reacted when the sea ice cover suddenly broke up. They concluded that when large amounts of Arctic ice drifted through the Fram Strait to the North Atlantic, the heat transport of the Gulf Stream declined noticeably.
6. August 2014: “80 questions about the southern tip of the world” – The international Antarctic community formulates tomorrow’s challenges to research
Appearing online today in the scientific journal Nature is a forward-looking article by 75 leading Antarctic researchers and science managers from 22 countries. The so-called “SCAR Horizon Scan” catalogues the 80 most pressing questions to be pursued during the next 20 years of research in the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean. In this interdisciplinary exchange of ideas, three scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research contributed to working out the topics that now establish the thrust of Antarctic research.