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Climate Change

For the past 70 years, the Danube has almost never frozen over

Since the 1950s, warmer and warmer winters and man-made inflows have largely prevented ice formation on Europe’s second-largest river

[21. May 2018] 

Today, only the eldest inhabitants of the Danube Delta recall that, in the past, you could skate on the river practically every winter; since the second half of the 20th century, Europe’s second-largest river has only rarely frozen over.


Sea Level Rise

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

AWI contributes two million euros towards the cost of a new satellite mission

[17. May 2018] 

A few months ago, the GRACE mission’s two Earth observation satellites burnt up in the atmosphere. Although this loss was planned, for the experts at the Alfred Wegener Institute it left a considerable gap in monitoring ice loss in the Antarctic and Greenland. Now the follow-up mission will finally be launched, and will play a vital role in predicting future sea level rise.


Arctic Ocean

The gypsum gravity chute: A phytoplankton-elevator to the ocean floor

AWI researchers discover a new phenomenon under the Arctic sea ice

[17. May 2018] 

Tiny gypsum crystals can make phytoplankton so heavy that they rapidly sink, hereby transporting large quantities of carbon to the ocean’s depths. Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute recently observed this phenomenon for the first time in the Arctic. As a result of this massive algal transport, in the future large amounts of nutrients could be lost from the surface waters.


Biodiversity

New species in the North Sea

Researchers describe the newly discovered amphipod Epimeria frankei using extensive mitogenomic information

[02. May 2018] 

Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Universities of Oldenburg and Potsdam, Germany have confirmed the existence of a new cryptic amphipod species in the North Sea. For the first time for the description of a new species, they used a level of mitogenomic information, which was normally applied in other areas of genetics. The discovery of Epimeria frankei was now published in the journal Scientific Reports. In the future, this level of molecular information could revolutionise biodiversity research.


New Study

Arctic Survivalists

Phytoplankton assemblages in coastal waters remain productive, despite variable environmental conditions

[30. April 2018] 

They form the basis of the Arctic food web – and are extremely tough: even when the water becomes more acidic and the available light or temperatures change, various phytoplankton assemblages in the Arctic demonstrate undiminished productivity and biodiversity. This was the main finding presented in a study by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, which they jointly release with their Canadian colleagues advanced online in the journal Nature Climate Change. Yet the question of whether this source of food for seals, whales and commercially harvested fish species in the Arctic can ultimately cope with global climate change requires further research to answer.


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