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Climate Research

Changes in high-altitude winds over the South Pacific produce long-term effects on the Antarctic

New findings from the field of Earth history are improving our grasp of climate mechanisms

[04. November 2019] 

In the past million years, the high-altitude winds of the southern westerly wind belt, which spans nearly half the globe, didn’t behave as uniformly over the Southern Pacific as previously assumed. Instead, they varied cyclically over periods of ca. 21,000 years. A new study has now confirmed close ties between the climate of the mid and high latitudes and that of the tropics in the South Pacific, which has consequences for the carbon budget of the Pacific Southern Ocean and the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. 

MOSAiC Expedition

A fortress of ice and snow

MOSAiC expedition begins its ice drift on a floe at 85 degrees north and 137 degrees east

[04. October 2019] 

After only a few days of searching, experts from the MOSAiC expedition have now found a suitable ice floe, where they will set up the research camp for their one-year-long drift through the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, one of the most important milestones in the expedition has been reached ahead of schedule, and before the Polar Night falls. Nevertheless, the search, which involved satellite imagery, two icebreakers, helicopter flights and scouting missions on the surface of the ice, was an enormous challenge – partly because, after the warm summer, there were very few sufficiently thick floes in the expedition’s start region.

IPCC Special Report

The pressure to take action is enormous

Statements on the IPCC’s new Special Report “The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate” from Hans-Otto Pörtner and AWI Director Antje Boetius

[25. September 2019] 

Today, in Monaco, the IPCC will present its new Special Report on the ocean and the Earth’s frozen regions. The report summarises observations of and projections on climate-based changes to ecosystems in the ocean, coastal, polar and alpine regions, describes the likely impacts of these changes for society, and presents a range of options for adaptation. Over the past three years, 104 researchers from 36 countries have contributed to the report. In the statements below, Prof Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of the IPCC’s Working Group II, and AWI Director Prof Antje Boetius share their thoughts on its significance.

Expedition MOSAiC

This Evening Sees the Start of MOSAiC – the Greatest Arctic Research Expedition of All Time

Frozen in the Arctic sea ice, scientists from 17 nations will investigate the epicentre of climate change on board the research icebreaker Polarstern for an entire year.

[20. September 2019] 

After a decade of preparations, it’s finally time: this evening at 8:30 p.m. the German icebreaker Polarstern will depart from the Norwegian port of Tromsø. On board researchers will investigate a region that is virtually inaccessible in winter, and which is crucial for the global climate.

Arctic Sea Ice

Low sea-ice cover in the Arctic

Second-lowest September minimum since observations

[13. September 2019] 

The sea-ice extent in the Arctic is nearing its annual minimum at the end of the melt season in September. Only circa 3.9 million square kilometres of the Arctic Ocean are covered by sea ice any more, according to researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Bremen. This is only the second time that the annual minimum has dropped below four million square kilometres since satellite measurements began in 1979.