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New Study

How stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels

[05. February 2016] 

A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The result would be a rise in the global sea level by several metres.

Sea ice physics

Several metre thick ice cocktail beneath coastal Antarctic sea ice

AWI researchers develop new method to detect platelet ice over large distances

[03. February 2016] 

Sea ice physicists of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) have developed a new method that allows them for the first time to efficiently determine the distribution and thickness of what researchers call a sub-ice platelet layer. This several metre thick layer of delicate ice crystals is predominantly found beneath coastal Antarctic sea ice, and at present knowledge about its spatial distribution is very limited.


Researchers measure record erosion on Alaskan riverbank

Itkillik River eats into the thawing riverbank at an average rate of 19 metres per year.

[26. January 2016] 

According to estimates, Alaska's thawing permafrost soils cost the USA several 100 million dollars every decade – primarily because airports, roads, pipelines and settlements require relocation as a result of sinking ground and eroding river banks. An international team of researchers has now measured riverbank erosion rates, which exceed all previous records, along the Itkillik River in Alaska's north. In a stretch of land where the ground contains a particularly large quantity of ice the Itkillik River eats into the river bank at 19 metres per year, the researchers report in a study recently published in the journal Geomorphology.

Marine Litter

Micro-plastic particles in edible fish and herbivores

According to recent AWI studies, plastic waste in the North and Baltic Seas is also eaten by edible fish and nautiluses

[11. January 2016] 

Micro-plastic particles pose a risk not only to sea birds, whales and organisms at the bottom of the sea. In two new studies, scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute Hemholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) show that plastic waste is also eaten by nautili as well as North and Baltic Sea fish such as cod and mackerel.

Joint Press Release of AWI and DBG

Alga of the Year 2016: Ice alga Melosira arctica – winner or loser of climate change?

Arctic Diatom in the Focus of a New AWI Research Project

[06. January 2016] 

Researchers have chosen one of the most important algae of the Arctic, the Melosira arctica, as Alga of the Year. The scientists are planning to use it to study the impact of climate change.