Scientists in the Polar Biological Oceanography Section are building a new understanding of how the ecosystems of the polar oceans will respond to climate change. Our research foci include

  • the biogeochemistry and ecology of sea ice, links to the pelagic system and environmental factors controlling these interactions
  • the interaction of polar ecology with the global climate through plankton productivity and particle sedimentation to the deep ocean, a process known as the Biological Pump, and
  • the diversity and ecophysiology of key polar organisms, which illuminates the limits to adaptation that is possible under climate change. 



Anya Waite (Photo: Sina Löschke)

Section head:
Prof. Dr.  Anya Waite

PD Dr. Barbara Niehoff

Admin. assistant/Website:
Tanja Glawatty

Research focuses

Polar pelagic biology and ecology

We explore the biology of polar plankton, its role in the ecology of the Polar Oceans as well as its efficiency in stimulating the biological pump which is, in fact, mitigating the greenhouse effect.  

Research groups:

Phyto- und protist plankton ecology in the Southern Ocean

Ecophysiology of pelagic key species

Phytoplankton ecology & particle flux in the Arctic

Arktic zooplankton

Particle dynamics


Image analysis as well as molecular measurement processes are, among other diversified equipment and methods, our tools to examine biodiversity in polar ecosystems, for example in sea ice or in the water column. 

Research groups:

Hustedt Diatom Study Centre


Biogeochemistry and Ecology of sea ice

We analyze the role of sea ice in the field of carbon fluxes as well as nutrient fluxes between sea ice and adjacent water bodies and in the sea ice itself.

Research groups:

Sea ice biology and -biogeochemistry


Associated Departments

Young Investigator Group


Helmholtz Virtual Institute - Ecophysiology of pelagic key species


Young Investigator Group


Associated department

Bionics/Lightweight Design