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Press release

Current Sea Ice Situation: Ongoing Retreat in the Arctic, new maximum in the Antarctic

[16. September 2014] 

The area of sea ice in the Arctic fell to a summer minimum of around 5.0 million square kilometers this year, which is about 1.6 million square kilometers more than the record low in 2012. However, according to sea ice physicist Marcel Nicolaus from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and Lars Kaleschke from the Hamburg Cluster of Excellence for Climate Research (CliSAP) this confirms the long-term downward trend in the Arctic. On the other hand, the winter ice sheet in the South Polar Ocean has expanded to an area of 20.0 million square kilometers, as the researchers report, which exceeds the 30-year-maximum from the previous year.

Press release

Greenhouse Gases in the Southern Ocean: First Evidence of Active Methane Emission at the Antarctic Seafloor

[26. August 2014] 

During an expedition with the German research vessel Polarstern off the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, an international team of scientists discovered more than 130 active methane seeps at the seafloor. According to chief scientist and MARUM researcher Gerhard Bohrmann, this is the first report of greenhouse gases seeping out of the seabed in the Southern Ocean. The finding was recently published in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Press release

New atlas of Southern Ocean marine life

[25. August 2014] 

A new atlas, providing the most thorough audit of marine life in the Southern Ocean, is published this week by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Leading marine biologists and oceanographers from all over the world spent the last four years compiling everything they know about ocean species from microbes to whales. Amongst the scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Press release

Record decline of ice sheets: For the first time scientists map elevation changes of Greenlandic and Antarctic glaciers

[20. August 2014] 

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have for the first time extensively mapped Greenland’s and Antarctica’s ice sheets with the help of the ESA satellite CryoSat-2 and have thus been able to prove that the ice crusts of both regions momentarily decline at an unprecedented rate. In total the ice sheets are losing around 500 cubic kilometres of ice per year. This ice mass corresponds to a layer that is about 600 metres thick and would stretch out over the entire metropolitan area of Hamburg.

Press release

Has the puzzle of rapid climate change in the last ice age been solved? New report published in Nature shows that small variations in the climate system can result in dramatic temperature changes

[19. August 2014] 

Over the past one hundred thousand years cold temperatures largely prevailed over the planet in what is known as the last ice age. However, the cold period was repeatedly interrupted by much warmer climate conditions. Scientists have long attempted to find out why these drastic temperature jumps of up to ten degrees took place in the far northern latitudes within just a few decades. Now, for the first time, a group of researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have been able to reconstruct these climate changes during the last ice age using a series of model simulations. The surprising finding is that minor variations in the ice sheet size can be sufficient to trigger abrupt climate changes. The new study was…