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Rising sea level

Expedition to Antarctica’s Glaciers

Results expected to improve forecasts for the rising global sea level

[02. February 2017] 

How has the West Antarctic Ice Sheet changed in response to alternating warm and cold time periods? And what does it mean for the sea level – today and tomorrow? Pursuing answers to these key questions, 50 researchers on board the Alfred Wegener Institute’s research vessel Polarstern are going to depart from Punta Arenas (Chile) on 6 February 2017, bound for the Amundsen Sea – the region of the Antarctic currently characterised by the most massive and rapid loss of ice. In the course of the expedition, the seafloor drill rig MARUM-MeBo70 will be used in the Antarctic for the first time.

Ocean Acoustics

The Sound of the Ocean

Comprehensive long-term study on ambient sound in the Southern Ocean published

Zwergwale tauchen zwischen den Eisschollen auf, um zu atmen.
[12. January 2017] 

For nearly three years, AWI researchers used underwater microphones to monitor the Southern Ocean and listen to a “choir” of whales and seals. The sounds recorded offer new insights into the ocean’s natural soundscape, as well as the animals’ behaviour and distribution.

Scientific consultation

German Arctic Office to act as consultant to politics and industry

The Alfred Wegener Institute is setting up the first cross-institutional centre of excellence for questions about the Arctic at the Potsdam site

Wer in den arktischen Gewässern künftig auf Fischfang gehen darf, ist eine der vielen Fragestellungen, in denen politische Entscheidungsträger wissenschaftlich fundierte Beratung benötigen.
[04. January 2017] 

The rapid climate changes in the Arctic are no longer just the domain of scientists. The shrinking sea ice and collapsing permafrost coasts are now also becoming topics on the agenda of international politics and industry. To be able to offer direct scientific advice to decision-makers, the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) has now set up an office for Arctic affairs at its Potsdam site. The German Arctic Office officially commenced work on 1 January 2017 and draws its expertise from a network of scientists from all German research institutes working on Arctic topics.

Coastal erosion in the Arctic

When the Arctic coast retreats, life in the shallow water areas drastically changes

The ecological consequences of increasing coastal erosion in the Arctic must be investigated better

Sedimentschleier im Wasser vor der Küste Herschel Islands, Yukon, Kanada. Die Sedimente wurden entweder durch Küstenerosion oder durch kleine Flüsse in das Meer eingetragen.
[04. January 2017] 

The thawing and erosion of Arctic permafrost coasts has dramatically increased in the past years and the sea is now consuming more than 20 meters of land per year at some locations. The earth masses removed in this process increasingly blur the shallow water areas and release nutrients and pollutants. Yet, the consequences of these processes on life in the coastal zone and on traditional fishing grounds are virtually unknown.

Deep-sea research

Manganese nodules as breeding ground for deep-sea octopuses

Biologists discover a new octopus species at more than 4000 metres depth that guard their eggs, likely for years prior to hatching, and a community which may not survive without hard substrate such as manganese nodules

Der Tiefseekrake "Casper", entdeckt an der Necker Ridge, Hawaii, in 4290 Metern Tiefe. Sein Mantel ist etwa 6,4 Zentimeter lang. Diese Aufnahme entstand mit dem US-amerikanischen Tauchroboter Deep Discovery.
[19. December 2016] 

Manganese nodules on the seabed of the Pacific Ocean are an important breeding ground for deep-sea octopuses. As reported by a German-American team of biologists in the current issue of the journal Current Biology, the octopuses deposit their eggs onto sponges that only grow locally on manganese nodules. The researchers had observed the previously unknown octopus species during diving expeditions in the Pacific at depths of more than 4000 metres - new record depths for these octopuses. Their specific dependence on manganese nodules for brooding eggs shows that the industrial extraction of resources in the deep sea must be preceded by thorough investigations into the ecological consequences of such actions.