9. April 2014: Research vessel Polarstern returns home after one and a half years in the Antarctic
After one and a half years in the Antarctic the research vessel Polarstern is expected back in its home port on 13 April. Apart from the crew and scientists on board, there are lots of data, samples and animals from the Southern Ocean that will soon be examined more closely in the laboratories of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). They stem from the area of the Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in the very south of the Weddell Sea, where scientists conducted research on sea ice, oceanic currents and the biocoenoses on the last Antarctic cruise leg of the expedition.
8. April 2014: AWI researchers decipher climate paradox from the Miocene: growth of Antarctic ice sheet triggered warming in the Southern Ocean
Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have deciphered a supposed climate paradox from the Miocene era by means of complex model simulations. When the Antarctic ice sheet grew to its present-day size around 14 million years ago, it did not get colder everywhere on the Earth, but there were regions that became warmer. A physical contradiction?
3. April 2014: “Like a giant elevator to the stratosphere”
An international team of researchers headed by Potsdam scientist Dr. Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute has discovered a previously unknown atmospheric phenomenon over the South Seas. Over the tropical West Pacific there is a natural, invisible hole extending over several thousand kilometres in a layer that prevents transport of most of the natural and manmade substances into the stratosphere by virtue of its chemical composition. Like in a giant elevator, many chemical compounds emitted at the ground pass thus unfiltered through this so-called “detergent layer” of the atmosphere. The newly discovered phenomenon over the South Seas boosts ozone depletion in the polar regions and could have a significant influence on the future climate of the Earth.
24. March 2014: Climate change: Earth warming already leads to significant changes in oceans
The current and projected climate change is altering living conditions in the oceans faster than during comparable events in the past 65 million years. This is the conclusion drawn by AWI biologist Prof. Dr. Hans-Otto Pörtner, who will take part in the coordination phase for the second part of the Fifth Assessment Report on climate change in Yokohama, Japan starting tomorrow. The expert from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), jointly headed the work on the chapter “Ocean Systems” together with his American colleague David Karl. It summarises the knowledge regarding the already observed and future consequences of climate change for life in the oceans.
19. March 2014: Iron, cadmium, lead, etc. – new 3D atlas makes trace metals in the ocean visible
A new digital 3D atlas reveals on first glance that the ocean has a long memory. At a depth of about 500 to 2,000 metres a red band runs across the Atlantic Ocean, indicating that presumably a large portion of the lead that used to pour out of the exhaust pipes of our cars prior to the introduction of unleaded petrol in North America and Europe floats around down there. However, lead is only one of many trace substances whose distribution in the oceans becomes visible in such detail for the first time.
24. January 2014: Changing climate: how dust changed the face of the Earth
The journal Science published results from a Polarstern expedition in the mostly unexplored South Pacific: An international research team under the management of the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven was able to prove that dust infiltrations had a major influence on the natural change between cold and warm periods in the southern hemisphere.
12. December 2013: New actors in the Arctic ecosystem: Atlantic amphipods are now reproducing in Arctic waters
Biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have for the first time shown that amphipods from the warmer Atlantic are now reproducing in Arctic waters to the west of Spitsbergen. This surprising discovery indicates a possible shift of the Arctic zooplankton community, scientists report in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.
5. December 2013: EU supports projects on atmosphere research with 36 million euros – the research cluster “Aerosols and Climate“ starts at the AWI Potsdam
The new research cluster “Aerosols and Climate” started on Thursday 5 December with a kick-off meeting at the Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). It brings together three projects, which deal with the interactions between aerosols and climate. The scientists involved want to minimise the great uncertainties in understanding the aerosol processes, which are emphasised in the last World Climate Report (IPCC). The EU is supporting the cluster in the coming four and a half years with a total of 36 million euros.
4. December 2013: International scholarship programme launched – Opening ceremony for the Centre of Excellence in Observational Oceanography in Berlin
The international advancement of young scientists has assumed a new dimension at the Alfred Wegener Institute: ten scholarship holders from just as many different nations will be embarking a ten-month traineeship as ocean experts this week. The Japanese Nippon Foundation and POGO (Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans) have selected the Alfred Wegener Institute to conduct their joint project to strengthen the globally networked oceanographic research in the coming years. Federal Research Minister Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka welcomes the scholars to the official programme launch in Berlin.
29. October 2013: Thawing Permafrost: The speed of coastal erosion in Eastern Siberia has nearly doubled
The high cliffs of Eastern Siberia – which mainly consist of permafrost – continue to erode at an ever quickening pace. This is the conclusion which scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have reached after their evaluation of data and aerial photographs of the coastal regions for the last 40 years. According to the researchers, the reasons for this increasing erosion are rising summer temperatures in the Russian permafrost regions as well the retreat of the Arctic sea ice. This coastal protection recedes more and more on an annual basis. As a result, waves undermine the shores. At the same time, the land surface begins to sink. The small island of Muostakh east of the Lena Delta is especially affected by these changes. Experts fear that it might even disappear altogether should the loss of land continue.