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AWI scientist Astrid Bracher has been appointed honorary professor

AWI-scientist Astrid Bracher (center), here with two of her colleagues, is now a professor at the University of Bremen. Photo: Alfred-Wegener-Institut

30 January 2013. Prof. Astrid Bracher, head of the Helmholtz young investigator group PHYTOOPTICS, has been appointed honorary professor of the University of Bremen today. The 45 year old expert for environmental physics has been teaching at the University’s department for “Physics and Electro-technics” since the year 2007 on topics like “Molecular Biology of Physicians” or “Remote sensing“. The latter is also topic of research done by her young investigator group PHYTOOPTICS. In this project, which is run in cooperation between the Alfred-Wegener-Institute and the University of Bremen, Astrid Bracher and her team try to find a way to determine and analyse the global distribution of algae in the world’s ocean via satellite. Their second aim is to develop a method, which helps to distinguish between different algae species via satellite. If you want to know more about PHOTOOPTICS, click here to go to the group’s project website.


Politicians from Bremen State visit the Alfred Wegener Institute

AWI technician Klaus-Uwe Richter explains the new clean laboratory in Bremerhaven. Photo: Sina Löschke, Alfred Wegener Institute

30. January 2013. The committee for science, media,data protection, and freedom of information of the Bremer Bürgerschaft (parliament of Bremen state) visited the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven yesterday. AWI-scientists reported on their recent research in the Arctic and Antarctic as well as on environmental stundies in offshore windfarms. The ten politicians also informed themselves about the communications and media relations work. Another subject was open access to the results of publicly financed science, which lead to interesting discussions. The visit was completed with a guided tour through the new clean laboratory and the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) laboratory. Modern technologies like these enable AWI scientists to conduct their internationally recognized research.


Science for pupils: AWI offers hands-on activities for girls and boys from class nine

23 January 2013. Next week the Alfred-Wegener-Institut in Bremerhaven will organize two hands-on-science days for boys and girls, which are attempting class nine. On Wednesday, the 30 January (3 – 5 pm) and on Thursday, the 31 January (9 am – 1 pm) all interested pupils are invited to come to the institute and do experiments related to the topic “Ice and Oceans”.  While every participant will be able to answer his or her own research question, experienced AWI scientists will give a helping hand and answer questions about their work. If you want to participate, send an e-mail with your name, your home address, the name of your school and a short answer to the question “Why do you want to participate?” to Susanne Gatti (e-mail: Susanne.Gatti(at) Closing date is the 25th of January 2013.  


Polarstern is on its way to the Weddell Sea

This aerial photograph shows the research icebreaker Polarstern at the North Pole. Photo: Mario Hoppmann, Alfred Wegener Institute

22 January 2013. With a delay of 36 hours the German reseach vessel POLARSTERN started its third leg of its 18-month long Antartic expedition today. After a crane had been damaged during debarkation and loading in the port of Punta Arenas (Chile), the crew needed all its creativity and craftsmanship to close the open front doors of the cargo hold. With closed doors the ship was ready to set sail. „After the front doors were closed, all crew members and scientists on-board gave a helping hand to get the expedition equipment, which was stored on the lower decks, to the upper decks. It was great teamwork“, Polarstern coordinator Dr. Rainer Knust said. The ship is on its way to the Weddell Sea now.


Polarstern expedition: Start of the third cruise leg is delayed

21 January 2013. Due to technical problems with the front crane the German research vessel Polarstern did not start its third cruise leg to Antarctica yesterday. One important part of the crane’s hydraulic system is broken. Therefore the crew could not complete loading in the port of Punta Arenas, Chile. “The damage is fundamental and we cannot fix the crane with our tools onboard," said captain Uwe Pahl on the phone.

Meanwhile technicians onboard and experts from the AWI Logistics Department are trying to find a solution. “The problem is, that the front doors of the cargo hold are still open. Each of them weighs ten metric tons and we cannot find a land-based crane in Punta Arena strong enough to lift and close them," AWI Polarstern coordinator Dr. Rainer Knust said. Without these doors closed, RV POLARSTERN is not allowed to set sail. Rainer Knust: “The polar regions are extreme environments where wind, ice and cold push our ship’s technique to its extremes. Both of Polarstern’s cranes had been checked when the ship was in the dockyard last autumn. This damage could not be foreseen.” 


New Antarctic geological timeline aids future sea-level predictions

View from the RV POLARSTERN during its search for a suitable drilling spot in the Amundsen Sea. Photo: G. Kuhn, Alfred Wegener Institute

17 January 2013.  Reporting this month in the journal Geology a team of researchers from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and the University of Tromsø presents a timeline for ice loss and glacier retreat in the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica.

Please read BAS Press Release on the website of the British Antarctic Survey - go to this link.


Team of experts evaluate the Helmholtz graduate school POLMAR

Group photo of the POLMAR-Team, Prof. Karin Lochte (middle) and the evaluators from different research institutions and the Helmholtz Association, Photo: Sina Loeschke, Alfred Wegener Institute

AWI director Prof. Karin Lochte gave an introductive talk about the AWI and its PhD programme. The evaluators and PhD students listened. Photo: Sina Loeschke, Alfred Wegener Institute

Prof. Jelle Bijma gives a talk about POLMAR in front of students and the evaluators. Photo: Sina Loeschke, Alfred Wegener Institute

Bremerhaven, 15 January 2013. „We want to be the best graduate school for Polar- and Marine Research in the world and that is why we want to know your opinion about how we are doing” – with these words Prof. Jelle Bijma, head of the Helmholtz graduate school POLMAR welcomed a team of experts, that came to Bremerhaven to evaluate the POLMAR program for graduates. In several short lectures, a poster session, discussions and many personal talks with POLMAR students and officials the evaluators from different research institutions and the Helmholtz association’s head office collected valuable information about the content, goals and methods of the POLMAR school. They will use them to come up with ideas for further improvements. 

The Helmholtz graduate school POLMAR has been offering a PhD program for young scientist with a focus on polar or marine research for almost five years. The POLMAR-team offers for instance workshops, trainings of transferable skills and guest lectures hold by worldwide known senior scientists. Students also have the chance to sign up for courses in “How to consult politicians” or “Teaching methods”, which are given by the POLMAR partners like the MARUM, the Max-Planck-Institute für Marine Microbiology, the Jacobs University or the University Oldenburg.

POLMAR is also known for its great social services. To name a few examples: The school managers help students to find a kindergarten for their kids or to get a babysitter for times spend in scientific conferences or poster sessions. They offer support for research time spend abroad and take care that during busy months of reseach and expeditions the AWI graduate guidelines are followed.

At the moment roundabout 140 of 180 AWI PhD students participate in the POLMAR program. If you want to know more about POLMAR, please click here to go to the school’s website.


AWI climate scientist Peter Lemke joins the CliC-Scientific Steering Group

15 January 2013. Prof. Peter Lemke, head of the AWI climate research division is one of the new members of the Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) Scientific Steering Group, who started their work on the 1 January 2013. The CliC-Scientific Steering Group (SSG) is composed of world renowned researchers and has the overall responsibility for planning and guiding the CliC project. It  encourages and promotes research into the cryosphere and its interactions as part of the global climate system. Furthermore it seeks to focus attention on the most important issues, encourage communication between researchers with common interests in cryospheric and climate science, promote international co-operation, and highlight the importance of this field of science to policy makers, funding agencies, and the general public. CliC was established as a core project of the World Climate Research Programme and is co-sponsored by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the International Arctic Science Committee.

Peter Lemke is not the only AWI scientist working in the SSG. For one more year or more AWI climate scientist Dr. Annette Rinke will remain to help guide the new directions of the CliC project. You will find more information about CliC here.


BRIESE Award for Marine Research goes to Dr. Lena Menzel

Award winner Dr. Lena Menzel, photo: M. Hoppmann, Alfred Wegener Institute

14 January 2013.  AWI biologist Dr. Lena Menzel receives the BRIESE Award for Marine Research to honour her dissertation. Menzel’s research topic was the diversity and geographical distribution of copepode species in the deep sea.

The award is assigned by the German shipping company Briese Schiffahrts GmbH in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research. The award honours excellent doctoral studies in the field of marine research with results that are closely related with the operations of research vessels and the application and development of technique and/or data collection at sea.


Helmholtz Association supports AWI spin-off

11 January 2013. The Helmholtz Association will support a new spin-off from the Alfred Wegener Institute this year. 100,000 Euro go to AWI sea ice physicists Dr. Thomas Krumpen and Dr. Stefan Hendricks for their business idea „Drift & Noice Polar Services – Scientific Polar Solutions“. Their new company will collect new data on sea ice, process and interprete the data so that the collected data can be made available to customers later.

Funding is granted by the so-called Helmholtz Enterprise initiative. Helmholtz  Enterprise is a Helmholtz Association initiative to support spin-offs from its Centres, thus ensuring that innovations and development will benefit our economy and society. Please find more information on Helmholtz Enterprise here.

An overview of AWI spin-offs is listed on the pages of the AWI Technology Transfer office.

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