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Polarstern Expedition

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

Scientists are exploring oceanic ice worlds with new robots

[20. October 2016] 

Under the ice of the Arctic, unknown habitats conceal an unexpected variety of living beings. On October 23rd, 46 scientists are expected to return to the home port in Bremerhaven from an Arctic expedition with the research vessel Polarstern. Over the past six weeks, they had explored life in ice, ocean and seabed with new robots and camera systems.


Mystery of archaeal butane degradation solved

Dr. Florin Musat am ultrahochauflösenden Massenspektrometer im UFZ. Dieses Gerät ist wichtiger Bestandteil der Technologieplattform ProVIS, die Forschern weltweit die Möglichkeit zu mikroskopischen Einblicken in Zellen und ihre räumliche Anordnung bietet. (
[18. October 2016] 

Researchers from the Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology of the Helmholtz Association and the Max Planck Society discovered microbial communities thriving on the hydrocarbon butane without the help of molecular oxygen. The microbial consortia, obtained from hydrothermally heated sediments in Guaymas Basin, Gulf of California, use unprecedented biochemistry to feed on butane.

Weddell Sea

Germany is proposing a Marine Protected Area in Antartica

Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute provide scientific basis

[16. October 2016] 

The European Union has submitted a proposal, prepared by Germany, to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for a marine protected area (MPA) in the Antarctic Weddell Sea. AWI scientists have compiled and analysed the scientific data on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.


New Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity

Alfred Wegener Institute and University of Oldenburg to intensify cooperation in marine biology

[13. October 2016] 

Marine ecosystems provide us with food and raw materials, they have an impact on air quality and global climate, they break down harmful substances and serve as places of recreation and tourism. The functioning of these ecosystems – and thus also the basis for human well-being – depends on the biological diversity of the oceans. The way climate change and human influences change marine biodiversity will in future be examined by scientists in a new institute.

Rock cores

Search for the effects of the Chicxulub asteroid impact on life

International expedition to the Chicxulub impact crater

Rock cores of the Chicxulub Impact Crater
[12. October 2016] 

A team of international scientists drilled into the site of the asteroid impact, known as the Chicxulub Impact Crater, which occurred 66 million years ago. This joint expedition recovered a nearly complete set of rock cores from 506 to 1335 meters below the modern day seafloor.