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.
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.
23. June 2014: Opening of Exhibition on 26 June: Oceans - Expedition to Uncharted Depths
Gentoo penguins glide over the water almost like dancers. Just beneath them filigree jellyfish float through rays of light and manta rays glide past majestically. The viperfish appears eerily and with enormous fangs in the depths. Nature photographer Solvin Zankl from Kiel (Germany) has photographed them all. For years he has been travelling around the world, taking a closer look at islands, coasts and the open sea to document the dwellers of the oceans in all their splendour.
19. June 2014: New discoveries on seafloor – AWI scientists name previously unknown underwater mountains after Nelson Mandela and a figure out of the novel “The 13½ Lives of Captain Bluebear”
As of today, the names of two previously unknown underwater mountains will appear on the nautical charts of the South Atlantic and the Weddell Sea: “Madiba Seamount” and “Nachtigaller Shoal”. In selecting the names at its conference in Monaco this year, the Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) followed the proposals of two scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research. They had discovered the mountains on Polarstern expeditions to Antarctica last year. The designation signifies official exploration of a further section of the seafloor.
5. June 2014: Research Vessel Polarstern setting out for the Arctic - Focusing on changes in the ice cover, ocean currents and effects on the marine biota
On Friday evening, June 6, 2014, RV Polarstern will set sail for the Arctic Ocean. 52 scientific expedition participants, dispatched by institutions in five countries, and a crew of 43 are going to start for the four-weeks expedition. The destination is the Fram Strait, in the waters between Greenland and Spitsbergen. This strait forms the only deep gateway between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic. The researchers will be examining longer-term physical, oceanographic, chemical and biological changes, reaching from the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean.