Weekly Reports Polarstern

The Expedition PS103 from Cape Town to Punta Arenas

This season’s first Antarctic Polarstern expedition PS103 commences on 16 December 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa, and will take us through the Weddell Sea to Punta Arenas, Chile, with 3 February 2017 being the scheduled arrival date.  The focus of this expedition is to provide contributions to scientific projects encompassing physical oceanography, marine biology and atmospheric sciences, with the overarching objective to improve our understanding of the evolution of the Weddell Sea water masses and the ecological and chemical cycles of the Weddell Sea. In addition to the direct scientific programme, this expedition also serves to resupply the German Neumayer Station, in order to support their multifaceted scientific activities. Specific scientific projects conducted from aboard are:


  • HAFOS, the AWI’s long term oceanographic observatory in the Weddell Sea, which investigates the circulation and evolution of Warm Deep Water and Weddell Sea Bottom Water by means of oceanographic deep-sea moorings, hydrographic sections and autonomous floats, the latter of which also extent the international Argo Project to the polar seas. Biological aspects of HAFOS concern the acoustic ecology of the Weddell Sea and its fauna, for which moorings are equipped with autonomous recorders.
  • The project „Sea Ice Mass and Energy Budget in the Weddell Sea“, which will install autonomous Sea Ice Buoys in the interior Weddell Sea’s to acquire information of the sea ice mass-balance and snow accumulation.
  • INTERPELAGIC, exploring the trophic interactions in the Southern Ocean’s pelagic realm with a focus on hyperiid amphipod crustaceans, krill and salps, and investigating the connectivity of amphipod populations as well as the feeding interactions between the key pelagic players by exploring diet and feeding habits of hyperiid amphipod crustacean populations throughout the Southern Ocean.
  • ALGENOM, collecting living, fixed and frozen plankton samples to explore the biogeography, diversity, and genomic and functional evolution in diatoms and other phytoplankton of the Southern Ocean.
  • MicoPath, studying single and combined effects of temperature, seawater carbonate chemistry and organic matter composition on heterotrophic organic matter remineralization and the formation of bromocarbons in natural plankton communities of the surface Weddell Sea.
  • ISOTAM, investigating the stable isotope ratio 15N/14N of ammonia and ammonium in air- and water samples to characterise atmospheric marine and continental ammonia sources and to project Nitrogen isotope ratios of NH4+ in Antarctic ice cores.
  • The “Phytoptics” project, which continuously samples optical data and pigment concentrations of the surface water. These bio-optical and biochemical data aid the development of hyper- and multispectral ocean colour satellite retrievals focusing on fluorescence and absorption signals and serve for ocean colour data validation.


Spending both Christmas and New Year at sea, we hope for smooth sailing, successful science and first and foremost, save returns of all expedition participants and our temporary home, Polarstern.