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Climate History

How the seafloor of the Antarctic Ocean is changing – and the climate is following suit

Experts have reconstructed the depth of the Southern Ocean at key phases in the last 34 million years of the Antarctic’s climate history

34 million years ago – transition from the Eocene to the early Oligocene
[04. August 2020] 

 A team of international experts, led by geophysicists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), has shed new light on nine pivotal intervals in the climate history of the Antarctic, spread over 34 million years, by reconstructing the depth of the Southern Ocean in each one.

MOSAiC Expedition

Time to Say Goodbye

The MOSAiC floe’s days are numbered, but Polarstern will continue the expedition further north

Packing up instruments in Met City, which is situated directly next to a melt pond.
[31. July 2020] 

After exactly 300 days of drifting with the MOSAiC floe, the international team around Expedition Leader Markus Rex on Wednesday, 29 July 2020, started the dismantling of the research camp and evacuation of the floe. Just one day later the floe finally broke into several fragments. After accompanying the floe on its journey for ten months, the team will now shift its focus to the last remaining puzzle piece in the annual cycle of Arctic sea ice: the start of the ice formation process.

Sea Ice

Sea-ice extent in the Arctic at a historical low

Especially low values off the Siberian coast, Northeast Passage ice-free since July

MOSAiC Ice floe 30.6.2020
[27. July 2020] 

The Arctic sea-ice extent is the lowest it’s ever been in July since the beginning of satellite observation. The sea-ice retreat is especially pronounced off the Siberian coast, as a result of which the Northeast Passage (also referred to as the Northern Sea Route) was ice-free by mid-July.

Scientific Publication

Climate change is impacting the spread of invasive animal species

The Asian shore crab as an example of invasive species successfully spreading to the North Sea and Baltic

Adult specimen of Hemigrapsus sanguineus.
 Die Asiatische Strandkrabbe, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, als geschlechtsreifes Tier.
[22. July 2020] 

What factors influence the spread of invasive animal species in our oceans? This question was the focus for a team of experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Bangor University (Wales, UK), and the University of Greifswald’s Zoological Institute and Museum in the context of the DFG-sponsored Research Training Group 2010 RESPONSE (Biological Responses to Novel and Changing Environments). The results of their study have just been released in the journal “Ecography”.


Good news: European sea bass absorb virtually no microplastic in their muscle tissue

Laboratory study: AWI researchers gave young European sea bass feed laced with microplastic for months, but found virtually no microplastic particles in the fish fillets

European sea bass  - Dicentrachus_labrax
[20. July 2020] 

In a new laboratory study, experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) investigated how many microplastic particles would be absorbed in the muscle tissue of young European sea bass after being given feed with extremely high microplastic particle content for a period of four months.