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Research priorities for the Arctic have been defined

International research organisations are defining priorities for the coming decade

[18. February 2016] 

The leading international Arctic research organisations have set common scientific objectives for the coming decade. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic were also involved in this process. Under the auspices of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), which is based at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, they are about to submit a report that sets out the path for a jointly conceived and solution-oriented research agenda on the sustainable development of the Arctic and beyond.

Atmospheric research

Unusual cold spell in the stratosphere creates conditions for severe ozone depletion in the Arctic

AWI researchers measure temperatures of minus 90 degrees Celsius and lower at 20 kilometres altitude

[10. February 2016] 

Unusual weather development in the Arctic leads to ozone depletion. According to the researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, in the past weeks an extreme cold spell in the Arctic stratosphere has created conditions that might cause severe ozone depletion over the Arctic in March – if the next few weeks will not bring a significant warming.

New Study

How stable is the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

Exceeding critical temperature limits in the Southern Ocean may cause the collapse of ice sheets and a sharp rise in sea levels

[05. February 2016] 

A future warming of the Southern Ocean caused by rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may severely disrupt the stability of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The result would be a rise in the global sea level by several metres.

Sea ice physics

Several metre thick ice cocktail beneath coastal Antarctic sea ice

AWI researchers develop new method to detect platelet ice over large distances

Nahaufnahme eines typischen Eisplättchens aus der Atkabucht, Weddellmeer, Antarktis. Die Plättchen messen bis zu 20 Zentimeter im Durchmesser.
[03. February 2016] 

Sea ice physicists of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) have developed a new method that allows them for the first time to efficiently determine the distribution and thickness of what researchers call a sub-ice platelet layer. This several metre thick layer of delicate ice crystals is predominantly found beneath coastal Antarctic sea ice, and at present knowledge about its spatial distribution is very limited.


Researchers measure record erosion on Alaskan riverbank

Itkillik River eats into the thawing riverbank at an average rate of 19 metres per year.

Forscher arbeiten an der 35 Meter hohen und 680 Meter langen Steilwand (Yedoma, Permafrost-Aufschluss) am Itkillit River im Norden Alaskas.
[26. January 2016] 

According to estimates, Alaska's thawing permafrost soils cost the USA several 100 million dollars every decade – primarily because airports, roads, pipelines and settlements require relocation as a result of sinking ground and eroding river banks. An international team of researchers has now measured riverbank erosion rates, which exceed all previous records, along the Itkillik River in Alaska's north. In a stretch of land where the ground contains a particularly large quantity of ice the Itkillik River eats into the river bank at 19 metres per year, the researchers report in a study recently published in the journal Geomorphology.