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Between Arctic Land and Sea

Innovative atlas reveals perilous realities of permafrost thaw

Screenshot Permafrost Atlas
[20. October 2023]  The European funded Horizon 2020 “NUNATARYUK”-project, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute, has carried out a comprehensive six-year investigation into the rapidly changing permafrost regions in the northern hemisphere. The project seeks to answer pressing questions about the role of permafrost thaw in the global climate system, and the consequences for ecosystems, the economy, and the people living in these regions. The culmination of this ambitious endeavour is the "Arctic Permafrost Atlas," a ground-breaking publication set to launch during the Arctic Circle Assembly on October 20.

Opening ceremony for the AWI Technical Centre “Rasmus Willumsen House”

Innovative technology lab on the Climate Campus Bremerhaven nearly complete

Opening ceremony of the AWI Technical Center Rasmus Willumsen House
[19. October 2023]  After more than four years under construction, today (19 October 2023) an opening ceremony was held for the newly built Technical Centre on the new Climate Campus in Bremerhaven. In future, the Technical Centre is where the Alfred Wegener Institute will develop, test and prepare new equipment for use on expeditions. The project received 18.5 million euros of funding from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal State of Bremen. In honour of Alfred Wegener’s last companion, the building was named after the Greenlander Rasmus Willumsen.

The changing Arctic Ocean

Research vessel Polarstern returns to its home port of Bremerhaven at the weekend

Polarstern view
[29. September 2023]  After eventful and busy months, the Arctic season ends this weekend with the Polarstern expedition called ArcWatch-1. The team of almost 100 crew and scientists measured sea ice thickness and properties, recorded the currents and chemical properties of the ocean and investigated life in and under the ice, in the open water and at the bottom of the deep sea. Their data show significant changes compared to previous expeditions.

How trace elements affect marine CO2 sinks

Iron and manganese affect algal growth – and with it, carbon transport in the Southern Ocean

Man in the lab
[27. September 2023]  The right mix of trace elements is essential to a healthy diet. That’s true not only for humans, but also for phytoplankton. As a key carbon dioxide sink, these tiny algae in the Southern Ocean can have significant effects on the global climate. In this regard, a new AWI study reveals an interesting connection: When phytoplankton simultaneously have access to more iron and more manganese, their biotic communities change. As a result, the algae can bind more CO2 and form more of their sticky, carbon-rich colonies, which more readily sink to the seafloor. In this way, they more efficiently absorb atmospheric carbon.

Riddle of Varying Warm Water Inflow in the Arctic Now Solved

New study helps improve forecasts on fate of Arctic sea ice

Ice floes cover a bay off the coast of Svalbard.
[21. September 2023]  In the “weather kitchen,” the interplay between the Azores High and Icelandic Low has a substantial effect on how much warm water the Atlantic transports to the Arctic along the Norwegian coast. But this rhythm can be thrown off for years at a time. Experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research finally have an explanation for why: Due to unusual atmospheric pressure conditions over the North Atlantic, low-pressure areas are diverted from their usual track, which disrupts the coupling between the Azores High, the Icelandic Low and the winds off the Norwegian coast.