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In focus: 50 years of long-term measurements “Helgoland Roads”

How do things look for the cod in the North Sea? Can algae pass through the stomach of copepods into their faecal pellets alive? Will Jamaican crabs survive if the worldwide temperature of the ocean continues to rise? And how rapidly is the temperature rising in the first place? All these investigations have one thing in common: they use the Helgoland Roads long-term data series. Anyone who wishes to report on changes in the ocean on an in-depth basis needs reliable data. Colleagues at the Biological Institute Helgoland have been collecting such data for 50 years now. The combination of physical and biological parameters with a high temporal resolution is tops worldwide. Temperature, salinity and nutrient concentration as well as secchi depth are measured every working day. And the tiny creatures from the seawater between Helgoland’s main island and “Düne” are caught, classified and counted. You will find out how exactly this is done and why it is important in this Focus.


 

Video on long-term research: endurance is needed

Prof. Dr. Karen Wiltshire is head of the Biological Institute Helgoland. Scientifically she is predominantly interested in the microscopically small algae that occur in the ocean. This means she is not only responsible for the Helgoland Roads long-term data series, but is also always eager to see what turns up in the catches! We have put together a film that shows how daily sampling is carried out, how the samples are subsequently prepared and why the measurements are important. Click here to see the video (only available in German language).


 

Helgoland Roads as a reflection of contemporary history

From Konrad Adenauer to Angela Merkel: seven male chancellors and one female chancellor have governed Germany during the past 50 years. Equal rights for women was still a long way off and racial discrimination not yet overcome in many countries when the long-term data series started on Helgoland. The Internet has only been widespread since the 1990s – at that time, therefore, we would have had to design our brief look back at history differently…


 

The world of algae: In the beginning we count

Algae cannot be fooled by anyone: if the nutrient composition in the North Sea changes or the water temperature rises, the phytoplankton reacts nearly at the same time. For this reason the crew of the Helgoland research vessel AADE not only takes water samples every time it sets course for the Helgoland Roads, but also fishes for plankton, which is later examined meticulously. To find out how tricky this job can be and what technology now makes the work easier, read here


 

The importance of long-term research

How do we know that the climate is changing globally and regionally? Primarily from statistical analyses of daily weather observations that are obtained all over the globe by means of standard methods. From this store of data scientists attempt to distinguish between natural cyclical fluctuations and human-induced trends as well as develop global and regional forecasts for the near and distant future. Oceanographer Prof. Dr. Gotthilf Hempel – founding director of the Alfred Wegener Institute – assesses the value of long-term data series in this article.


 

How do you get to the object desired?

50 years of the Helgoland Roads long-term data series – what kind of daily work routine does that entail exactly? In this picture gallery we would like to convey the procedures to you in somewhat more detail. First on the research vessel AADE where the crew takes water samples, tows nets and determines the temperature and secchi depth of the water. Then in the laboratory, where staff members prepare and analyse the samples. Click here to go the picture gallery.


 
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