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Scientists analyse the extent of ocean acidification

[25. August 2013] 

Ocean acidification could change the ecosystems of our seas even by the end of this century. Biologists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), have therefore assessed the extent of this ominous change for the first time. In a new study they compiled and analysed all available data on the reaction of marine animals to ocean acidification. The scientists found that whilst the majority of animal species investigated are affected by ocean acidification, the respective impacts are very specific. The AWI-researchers present their results as an Advance Online Publication on Sunday 25 August 2013 in Nature Climate Change.


Press release

Tests passed: New AWI thermal imaging system helps researchers to protect large whales from noise around the clock

[12. August 2013] 

Physicists at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, successfully tested a thermal imaging system aboard the research vessel Polarstern. The system automatically detects large whales by their spouts, day or night from distances up to five kilometres. As the scientists report in a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE, the system detected significantly more whales than researchers using binoculars to spot the animals. The thermal imaging camera and accompanying analysis software is an effective tool for protecting these rare marine mammals from intense underwater noise.


Press release

Commissioning of the new research ship MYA II – Handing over to scientists at the Alfred Wegener Institute on Sylt

[12. August 2013] 

21 metres long, 1.30 metre draught, a maximum speed of ten knots and full of the most up-to-date technology: on 13 August 2013 the research ship MYA II will be handed over to science at a ceremony in List on Sylt. Prof. Dr. Waltraud Wende, the Schleswig-Holstein Minister for Education and Research, is going to be present at the event, as well as representatives of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research. Ten percent of the 4.5 million euro development and construction costs for the MYA II were met by the State of Schleswig-Holstein, and 90 percent from federal funds.


Press release

Glass sponges take advantage of retreating Antarctic ice shelves

[11. July 2013] 

The breakup and collapse of the Larsen A ice shelf in the western Weddell Sea in 1995 has resulted in fundamental changes to life on the sea bed in less than two decades. As reported by biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in the cover story of the current issue of the scientific journal Current Biology, Antarctic glass sponges have been the prime beneficiaries of the disappearance of the ice shelf. To the surprise of the scientists, the density of these archaic filter-feeders has increased threefold between 2007 and 2011 despite only low plankton food supply and water temperatures of minus 2 degrees Celsius. The sponges had also grown remarkably quickly and had completely supplanted competitors for food. The…


Press release

Huge iceberg breaks away from the Pine Island glacier in the Antarctic

[09. July 2013] 

Yesterday (8 July 2013) a huge area of the ice shelf broke away from the Pine Island glacier, the longest and fastest flowing glacier in the Antarctic, and is now floating in the Amundsen Sea in the form of a very large iceberg. Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association have been following this natural spectacle via the earth observation satellites TerraSAR-X from the German Space Agency (DLR) and have documented it in many individual images. The data is intended to help solve the physical puzzle of this “calving“.


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