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Arctic Ocean

The gypsum gravity chute: A phytoplankton-elevator to the ocean floor

AWI researchers discover a new phenomenon under the Arctic sea ice

Probe vom Meeresboden
[17. May 2018] 

Tiny gypsum crystals can make phytoplankton so heavy that they rapidly sink, hereby transporting large quantities of carbon to the ocean’s depths. Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute recently observed this phenomenon for the first time in the Arctic. As a result of this massive algal transport, in the future large amounts of nutrients could be lost from the surface waters.


Biodiversity

New species in the North Sea

Researchers describe the newly discovered amphipod Epimeria frankei using extensive mitogenomic information

Neue Flohkrebsart  und Schwesterart
[02. May 2018] 

Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the Universities of Oldenburg and Potsdam, Germany have confirmed the existence of a new cryptic amphipod species in the North Sea. For the first time for the description of a new species, they used a level of mitogenomic information, which was normally applied in other areas of genetics. The discovery of Epimeria frankei was now published in the journal Scientific Reports. In the future, this level of molecular information could revolutionise biodiversity research.


New Study

Arctic Survivalists

Phytoplankton assemblages in coastal waters remain productive, despite variable environmental conditions

AMUST-Probennahmen im Kongsfjord, Spitzbergen
[30. April 2018] 

They form the basis of the Arctic food web – and are extremely tough: even when the water becomes more acidic and the available light or temperatures change, various phytoplankton assemblages in the Arctic demonstrate undiminished productivity and biodiversity. This was the main finding presented in a study by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, which they jointly release with their Canadian colleagues advanced online in the journal Nature Climate Change. Yet the question of whether this source of food for seals, whales and commercially harvested fish species in the Arctic can ultimately cope with global climate change requires further research to answer.


Microplastic

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

The composition and layering of plastic particles found in sea ice reveal their regions of origin

Schmelztümpel auf arktischem Meereis
[24. April 2018] 

Experts at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have recently found higher amounts of microplastic in arctic sea ice than ever before. However, the majority of particles were microscopically small. The ice samples from five regions throughout the Arctic Ocean contained up to 12,000 microplastic particles per litre of sea ice. Further, the different types of plastic showed a unique footprint in the ice allowing the researchers to trace them back to possible sources. This involves the massive garbage patch in the Pacific Ocean, while in turn, the high percentage of paint and nylon particles pointed to the intensified shipping and fishing activities in some parts of the Arctic Ocean. The new study has just been released in…


Arctic Ocean

Wandering greenhouse gas

Climate models need to take into account the interaction between methane, the Arctic Ocean and ice

[14. March 2018] 

On the seafloor of the shallow coastal regions north of Siberia, microorganisms produce methane when they break down plant remains. If this greenhouse gas finds its way into the water, it can also become trapped in the sea ice that forms in these coastal waters. As a result, the gas can be transported thousands of kilometres across the Arctic Ocean and released in a completely different region months later. This phenomenon is the subject of an article by researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, published in the current issue of the online journal Scientific Reports. Although this interaction between methane, ocean and ice has a significant influence on climate change, to date it has not been reflected in climate models.


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