Here you can find the press releases of the Alfred Wegener Institute. Please note, that the images contained in the press releases are for use in connection with the press release, exclusively. For any other usage, please contact our communications department.
16. September 2014: Current Sea Ice Situation: Ongoing Retreat in the Arctic, new maximum in the Antarctic
The area of sea ice in the Arctic fell to a summer minimum of around 5.0 million square kilometers this year, which is about 1.6 million square kilometers more than the record low in 2012. However, according to sea ice physicist Marcel Nicolaus from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and Lars Kaleschke from the Hamburg Cluster of Excellence for Climate Research (CliSAP) this confirms the long-term downward trend in the Arctic. On the other hand, the winter ice sheet in the South Polar Ocean has expanded to an area of 20.0 million square kilometers, as the researchers report, which exceeds the 30-year-maximum from the previous year.
26. August 2014: Greenhouse Gases in the Southern Ocean: First Evidence of Active Methane Emission at the Antarctic Seafloor
During an expedition with the German research vessel Polarstern off the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, an international team of scientists discovered more than 130 active methane seeps at the seafloor. According to chief scientist and MARUM researcher Gerhard Bohrmann, this is the first report of greenhouse gases seeping out of the seabed in the Southern Ocean. The finding was recently published in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
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.
5. August 2014: Megascale icebergs run aground: Finding the deepest iceberg scours to date provides new insights into the Arctic’s glacial past
Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have found between Greenland and Spitsbergen the scours left behind on the sea bed by gigantic icebergs. The five lineaments, at a depth of 1,200 metres, are the lowest-lying iceberg scours yet to be found on the Arctic sea floor. This finding provides new understanding of the dynamics of the Ice Age and the extent of the Arctic ice sheet thousands of years ago. In addition, the researchers could draw conclusions about the export of fresh water from the Arctic into the North Atlantic. The AWI scientists have published their findings in the online portal of the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.
22. July 2014: Milestone on the way to construction of new vessel as successor to research icebreaker Polarstern: Reederei F. Laeisz as partner
This spring Reederei F. Laeisz G.m.b.H. received the contract award for consulting services concerning design and construction of a future German research icebreaker. Today, Tuesday, 22 July 2014, representatives of the shipping company and the Alfred Wegener Institute additionally signed a contract for ship management in Bremerhaven.
16. July 2014: Surprising climate balance: In the long term lakes in permafrost areas have sequestered more greenhouse gas from the atmosphere than they released during their formation
Since the last glacial period so-called thermokarst lakes in Arctic permafrost areas have sequestered more greenhouse gases from the atmosphere than they ever previously emitted during their formation. An international team of scientists presents this surprising research result today in an online publication by the journal Nature. The researchers had examined up to 10,000-year-old soil deposits from northern Siberian lakes and calculated for the first time the total carbon balance for several hundred thousand bodies of water.
26. June 2014: The simpler, the more heat-resistant – scientists uncover the key to adaptation limits of ocean dwellers
The simpler a marine organism is structured, the better it is suited for survival during climate change. Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, discovered this in a new meta-study, which appears today in the research journal Global Change Biology. For the first time biologists studied the relationship between the complexity of life forms and the ultimate limits of their adaptation to a warmer climate. While unicellular bacteria and archaea are able to live even in hot, oxygen-deficient water, marine creatures with a more complex structure, such as animals and plants, reach their growth limits at a water temperature of 41 degrees Celsius. This temperature threshold seems to be insurmountable for their highly developed metabolic systems.