The access to the Polar Regions requires instruments that are effective and designed for the specific requirements. These instruments include ice breaking research vessels, all year operating stations as logistic bases with affiliated observatories and specially equipped aircrafts and vehicles for use on land and in the air. Effective communication connections and local networks are needed for the collection and transmission of data. Only the permanent availability of such infrastructures makes an efficient and internationally high rank marine and terrestrial polar research possible.
The AWI operates the research and supply vessel Polarstern, two research aircrafts, one permanently running station in the Arctic and one the Antarctic, and summer stations that have been set up on a long term basis for specific scientific questions. There is a lot of experience in running traverses into the Antarctic inland ice plateau. For such projects a flotilla of drawing vehicles, sledges, containers for freight and living and tank containers is held ready at the Neumayer Station, a station that meets high technological standards.
The AWI logistics department coordinates the preparation and execution of expeditions, develops and realizes technical projects for the polar expeditions and equips between 500 and 700 expedition participants every year. Engineering and logistic services for the operation of research platforms are provided on the basis of operation and management agreements. These services include the operation of aircrafts and vessels, staff employment, maintenance and repair works, supervision and further development of scientific equipment and computer systems and the supply with provisions and fuel.
The mobile research platform and the stations in the Arctic and the Antarctic can only be operated with a close international collaboration. Without this collaboration, the expenditure of the German polar research would be significantly higher. The AWI uses these opportunities in many ways and provides own infrastructures.
Expeditions into the Antarctic are planned and organized in cooperation with the national Antarctic programs COMNAP and SCALOP. Bilateral agreements to regulate logistic operations like the use of polar aircrafts and the supply of the Neumayer Station are made every season. South Africa, Great Britain, Argentina, Norway, Japan, Sweden, Russia, France and the Netherlands are important international cooperation partners.