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Scientific consultation

German Arctic Office to act as consultant to politics and industry

The Alfred Wegener Institute is setting up the first cross-institutional centre of excellence for questions about the Arctic at the Potsdam site

[04. January 2017] 

The rapid climate changes in the Arctic are no longer just the domain of scientists. The shrinking sea ice and collapsing permafrost coasts are now also becoming topics on the agenda of international politics and industry. To be able to offer direct scientific advice to decision-makers, the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) has now set up an office for Arctic affairs at its Potsdam site. The German Arctic Office officially commenced work on 1 January 2017 and draws its expertise from a network of scientists from all German research institutes working on Arctic topics.


Coastal erosion in the Arctic

When the Arctic coast retreats, life in the shallow water areas drastically changes

The ecological consequences of increasing coastal erosion in the Arctic must be investigated better

[04. January 2017] 

The thawing and erosion of Arctic permafrost coasts has dramatically increased in the past years and the sea is now consuming more than 20 meters of land per year at some locations. The earth masses removed in this process increasingly blur the shallow water areas and release nutrients and pollutants. Yet, the consequences of these processes on life in the coastal zone and on traditional fishing grounds are virtually unknown.


Deep-sea research

Manganese nodules as breeding ground for deep-sea octopuses

Biologists discover a new octopus species at more than 4000 metres depth that guard their eggs, likely for years prior to hatching, and a community which may not survive without hard substrate such as manganese nodules

[19. December 2016] 

Manganese nodules on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean are an important breeding ground for deep-sea octopuses. As reported by a German-American team of biologists in the current issue of the journal Current Biology, the octopuses deposit their eggs onto sponges that only grow locally on manganese nodules. The researchers had observed the previously unknown octopus species during diving expeditions in the Pacific at depths of more than 4000 metres - new record depths for these octopuses. Their specific dependence on manganese nodules for brooding eggs shows that the industrial extraction of resources in the deep sea must be preceded by thorough investigations into the ecological consequences of such actions.


Study

Large amounts of meltwater on the East Antarctic ice shelf

Discovery of a ring structure two years ago gives rise to new scientific insights

[12. December 2016] 

The East Antarctic ice shelves may be more vulnerable to climate change than previously assumed. A research team in cooperation with the Alfred Wegener Institute has detected large amounts of meltwater on the Roi Baudouin shelf ice. This is due to strong winds that blow away the snow. This is the result of a study which has now been published in the online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change.


Geoscientific age determination

Identifying age measurements distorted by fossil fuel emissions

Radiocarbon dating remains a reliable tool if it is supplemented by 13C measurements

[07. December 2016] 

Good news for archaeologists and natural scientists! You will be able to continue to use the radiocarbon method as a reliable tool for determining the age of artefacts and sample materials. The reduction of the carbon isotope 14C in the atmosphere accelerated by anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions and the associated distortion of the radiocarbon age of materials can be precisely identified - by measuring the carbon isotope 13C. This is the result of a study by AWI geoscientist Dr Peter Köhler, which was published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters.


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