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How the Arctic Ocean Became Saline

AWI researchers model climate changes caused by the submersion of the Greenland-Scotland Ridge

FS Heincke in Spitzbergen
[06. June 2017] 

The Arctic Ocean was once a gigantic freshwater lake. Only after the land bridge between Greenland and Scotland had submerged far enough did vast quantities of salt water pour in from the Atlantic. With the help of a climate model, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute have demonstrated how this process took place, allowing us for the first time to understand more accurately how Atlantic circulation as we know it today came about. The results of the study have now been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Joint press release from the University of Oldenburg and the AWI

Why do Antarctic krill stocks fluctuate?

Climatic factors play a lesser role than previously thought

Antarktischer Krill (Euphausia superba), Aquariumsaufnahme.
[05. June 2017] 

It is only six centimetres long, but it plays a major role in the Antarctic ecosystem: the small crustacean Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill). It's one of the world's most abundant species and the central diet of a number of animals in the Southern Ocean. For a long time, scientists have been puzzled why the size of krill stocks fluctuates so widely. In a new study headed by Prof. Bernd Blasius and Prof. Bettina Meyer, a group of scientists from the University of Oldenburg's Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) and the Bremerhaven-based Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have shown that the competition for food within the population is responsible for the variability.

Study in Nature Communications

Geoscientific evidence for subglacial lakes

Meltwater lakes under the Antarctic Ice Sheet accelerated glacial retreat in the Earth’s past

[01. June 2017] 

During the last glacial period – when the ice in the Antarctic was far thicker and extended further offshore than it does today – it has been speculated that subglacial lakes existed beneath it. An international team of researchers has now successfully sampled the metre-thick sediment layers left behind by these lakes contemporary on the seafloor. This is the outcome of a study by Gerhard Kuhn and colleagues, which was published today in the journal Nature Communications.


Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity officially founded

Providing the scientific basis for marine conservation

[31. May 2017] 

How and why is marine biodiversity responding to global change? How are these changes affecting marine ecosystems and their functions? And how can society adapt to or mitigate them? From now on, researchers will focus on these questions at the Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity (HIFMB), which was officially inaugurated today at the University of Oldenburg

Arctic Research

How is climate change affecting fauna in the Arctic?

Polarstern expedition explores the interplays between the atmosphere, ice and ocean – and the effects on the ecosystem

[18. May 2017] 

On Wednesday, 24 May 2017, 49 atmospheric and cloud researchers, sea-ice physicists, marine biologists and biogeochemists will embark on a joint expedition headed for Svalbard. On board the research vessel Polarstern from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) all of these disciplines are focused on just one question: How is the climate changing the Arctic?