Contact Communications + Media Relations
Subscribe for press releases as RSS

The Antarctic

Why the tongue of the Pine Island Glacier suddenly shrank

Researchers map the seafloor near the Pine Island Glacier and use time-lapse video to unravel the mystery of its abrupt retreat

Polarstern nahe eines Eisbergs in der Pine Island Bucht.
[15. June 2018] 

The Pine Island Glacier in Western Antarctica is not only one of the fastest-flowing ice streams in the Southern Hemisphere; over the past eleven years, four major icebergs have calved from its floating tongue. In February 2017, researchers on board the German research icebreaker Polarstern successfully mapped an area of seafloor previously covered by shelf ice. A comparison of these new maps with satellite images of the ice stream reveals why the glacier suddenly retreated toward the coast: at important points, it had lost contact with the ground, as the experts report in the online journal The Cryosphere, a journal of the European Geosciences Union. 


Antarctica ramps up sea level rise

Ice losses from Antarctica have increased global sea levels by 7.6 mm since 1992, with two fifths of this rise (3.0 mm) coming in the last five years alone.

Beitrag des antarktischen Eispanzers zum Meeresspiegelanstieg (Grafik: IMBIE/Planetary Visions)
[13. June 2018] 

The findings are from a major climate assessment known as the Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise (IMBIE), and are published today in Nature. It is the most complete picture of Antarctic ice sheet change to date - 84 scientists from 44 international organisations combined 24 satellite surveys to produce the assessment.

Polarstern expedition draws to a close in Bremerhaven

How is the ecosystem around the Antarctic Peninsula changing?

On board the research vessel Polarstern, experts investigated krill and salps

Krilllarven unter dem Meereis des Weddellmeeres
[07. June 2018] 

In the autumn, the waters surrounding the Antarctic Peninsula were still home to large quantities of krill and salps, ready to spawn. Thanks to warmer water temperatures, the ice formation began later in the year, as a result of which single-celled algae, the chief food source for these organisms, were available in higher concentrations. How life in the Southern Ocean will adapt to such changes was a central topic during this year’s Antarctic season on board the research vessel Polarstern, which will end when, on Monday 11 June 2018, the ship returns to its homeport, Bremerhaven, after nearly six months at sea.

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

Donau-Durchbruch beim Kloster Mraconia an der Grenze zwischen Rumänien und Serbien.
[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

Illustration GRACE-FO über der Antarktis
[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.