Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems (PACES II)

The research programme "Marine, Coastal and Polar Systems” pools the scientific expertise of the AWI in regard to all geo-scientific, biological and climatological research themes in the Polar Regions, the Arctic Ocean and the Coastal and Shelf Sea Regions of the North Sea.

The subtitle of the research programme "Polar regions And Coasts in the changing Earth System" (PACES II) refers to activities of observing, analysing, modelling and predicting natural variations and anthropogenic impacts on the Earth System. This provides a solid basis to answer the pressing issues for society on the social and economic impacts of climate and environmental changes (e.g. sea level rise, intensive use of natural resources) and to secure sustainable livelihood. 

The research programme PACES II (2014-2018) is performed commonly with scientists of the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht (HZG). Scientific themes as well as strategic issues are addressed for the next five years. The programme is part of the Helmholtz Association’s research field ‘Earth and Environment’ and is evaluated by international and independent experts every five years.

Contact persons

Spokesperson of the Research Programme
Prof. Dr. Thomas Jung

Programme Manager
Dr. Almut Schmengler



Main themes of the research programme

The research programme focuses on four topics which are subdivided in three to six work packages. Within these topics and work packages, scientists of the three disciplines geo- bio- and climate sciences work complementarily together on interdisciplinary themes.   

Thema 1

Changes and variability in Arctic and Antarctic

  • What are the causes of Arctic sea ice decline and what are the consequences for the ocean circulation, biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem functions?
  • How will dynamic and thermodynamic processes influence the mass balance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and what consequences are expected? 
  • What impact has climate warming on the release of the greenhouse gas methane in the Arctic?
  • How does the Southern Ocean change and what are the impacts on the global climate system?

Thema 2

Fragile coasts and shelf sea

  • What are the impacts of natural variability and anthropogenic driving forces on coasts and shelf sea regions of the North Sea?
  • What effects do these changes have on the nutrient balance, marine biodiversity and physical processes?
  • How can research methods such as scientific observational systems and modelling scenarios support an adequate risk assessment and long term management of coastal zones?

Thema 3 

The earth system from a polar perspective: Data, modelling and synthesis

  • How can  findings from the reconstruction of past climate conditions be used for projections of future climate change in polar regions? 
  • What kind of observations, modelling scenarios and climate archives from ice, ocean, sea and permafrost regions can be used to decipher the dynamic of the Earth System on different time scales?
  • Which impacts do spatial and temporal patterns, physical-biological drivers and feedback mechanisms have on climate variability and climate predictions in polar regions?

Topic 4

Bridging research and society - products, tools and climate services

  • How can tools for analysis of scientific data and predictions be made accessible for use by stakeholders?
  • How are research results and data products presentable for reuse and for coupling to knowledge?
  • How can scientific findings of climate research on global change and its impact on our environment be developed and presented as services in a discourse with interest groups and users.

    Research infrastructures

    The research vessels POLARSTERN and HEINCKE as well as the research platform Neumayer-Station III provide excellent logistical infrastructure without which the polar, marine and coastal research programme could not be performed.