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Press release

Glass sponges take advantage of retreating Antarctic ice shelves

[11. July 2013] 

The breakup and collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf in the western Weddell Sea in 1995 has resulted in fundamental changes to life on the sea bed in less than two decades. As reported by biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in the cover story of the current issue of the scientific journal Current Biology, Antarctic glass sponges have been the prime beneficiaries of the disappearance of the ice shelf. To the surprise of the scientists, the density of these archaic filter-feeders has increased threefold between 2007 and 2011 despite only low plankton food supply and water temperatures of minus 2 degrees Celsius. The sponges had also grown remarkably quickly and had completely supplanted competitors for food. The...


Press release

Huge iceberg breaks away from the Pine Island glacier in the Antarctic

[09. July 2013] 

Yesterday (8 July 2013) a huge area of the ice shelf broke away from the Pine Island glacier, the longest and fastest flowing glacier in the Antarctic, and is now floating in the Amundsen Sea in the form of a very large iceberg. Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association have been following this natural spectacle via the earth observation satellites TerraSAR-X from the German Space Agency (DLR) and have documented it in many individual images. The data is intended to help solve the physical puzzle of this “calving“.


Press release

Get ready for Ocean Acidification – Nature-Comment by AWI-scientist and Swedish colleague

[27. June 2013] 

AWI-scientist Prof. Dr. Hans-Otto Pörtner and his colleague Dr. Sam Dupont (University of Gothenborg, Kristineberg, Sweden) publish in the current issue of the journal nature the article: “Get ready for ocean acidification“. They summarize the current status of knowledge and demonstrate needs for action. Their appeal: more interdisciplinary research has appeared necessary.


Press release

New multifunctional workshop building for the Alfred Wegener Institute on Heligoland – Inauguration and Open Day

[19. June 2013] 

A new workshop building for the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, is being inaugurated on Heligoland on Thursday, 20 June 2013. The new workshop building completes the first phase of the so-called Bluehouse Greenhouse concept: the development of a modern research complex that achieves an energy balance which is as climate-neutral as possible. The building cost € 1.65 million, with investment especially in sustainable construction. The festive inauguration is the start of the open day of the Biological Station Heligoland.


Press release

The genetic diversity makes the difference: researchers unravel reasons of global success in the calcified alga Emiliania huxleyi

[12. June 2013] 

In collaboration with an international team of researchers, scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, have sequenced the genome of the calcified alga Emiliania huxleyi and have found an explanation for the enormous adaptive potential and global distribution of this unicellular alga. As the researchers report in an online prepublication of the scientific journal Nature, the microalga’s “trick” is genetic diversity. It has a particularly large so-called pan-genome which means that the unicellular algae share a certain set of common genetic information present in all strains. The remaining gene pool varies and depends on the geographic location and the respective living conditions of the algae. The calcified E. huxleyi is...


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