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Polar 6 is the first German research aircraft to traverse the North Pole

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute measure sea-ice thickness in the Arctic

Polar 6 am Nordpol
[29. August 2017] 

At 2:10 pm UTC on 22 August 2017, the Polar 6 became the first German research aircraft to fly over the North Pole. The aircraft “departed from (10:11 am UTC) and returned to (5:00 pm UTC) Station North (81.5°N, 16W)”, as Dr Thomas Krumpen reported in an email sent from Greenland. The sea-ice physicist from the Alfred Wegener Institute is heading the current measuring campaign, TIFAX (Thick Ice Feeding Arctic Export), in the course of which the participating researchers will measure sea ice thickness.

Nature Communications Study

New findings on the past and future of sea ice cover in the Arctic

Despite the high temperatures, geologists and climate researchers find evidence that there was sea ice at the North Pole during the last interglacial

Bergung eines Kastenlotes
[29. August 2017] 

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently climbing two to three times faster than the global average. The result – and, thanks to feedback effects, also the cause – is dwindling sea ice. In a study published in the actual volume of Nature Communications, geo- and climate researchers at the Alfred-Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar- and Marine Research (AWI) show that, in the course of our planet’s history, summertime sea ice was to be found in the central Arctic in periods characterised by higher global temperatures – but less CO2 – than today.

New Technologies for Arctic Research

Underwater robot scheduled to surface after a year exploring the Arctic depths

The Helmholtz Alliance ROBEX tests innovative technologies during a Polarstern expedition

Robex Familienfoto im DFKI Salzwasserbecken
[18. August 2017] 

On Tuesday, 22 August the research icebreaker Polarstern will depart the Norwegian port of Tromsø for a unique expedition to the Arctic: the autonomous underwater robot TRAMPER is scheduled to resurface, after a full year of deep-sea exploration in the Arctic. It and other robotic systems jointly designed by deep-sea and aerospace researchers in the context of the Helmholtz Alliance ROBEX will now undergo nearly three weeks of testing under real-world operating conditions. The purpose of ROBEX is to develop new technologies for exploring remote regions characterised by extreme environmental conditions.

Climate Research

Into the unknown - high altitude research aircraft explores the upper levels of the Asian Monsoon

International team of scientists investigates air at altitudes up to 20 km

[31. July 2017] 

Der asiatische Monsun ist eines der dynamischsten und energiereichsten Wettersysteme unseres Planeten. Ein internationales Wissenschaftlerteam unter Leitung des Alfred-Wegener-Instituts führt jetzt von Nepal aus erstmalig Forschungsflüge mit einem Höhenforschungsflugzeug in die oberen Bereiche des Monsuns aus. Anhand der Ergebnisse wollen sie das globale Klimasystem besser verstehen.

Plankton research

Time to rise and shine

Genetic clocks in zooplankton species regulate what is likely the largest daily movement of biomass worldwide

Ruderfußkrebs Calanus finmarchicus
[14. July 2017] 

The copepod species Calanus finmarchicus schedules its day using a genetic clock that works independently of external stimuli. The clock shapes the copepod’s metabolic rhythms and daily vertical migration. This in turn have an enormous influence on the entire food web in the North Atlantic.