Contact Communications + Media Relations
Database with AWI Experts
Subscribe for press releases as RSS

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. 

ArcWatch Expedition

Polarstern reaches North Pole

Research icebreaker at the northernmost point of the earth for the seventh time

Polarstern at the North Pole
[08. September 2023]  Five weeks after setting sail from Tromsø, Norway, the Alfred Wegener Institute's research vessel Polarstern makes a stop at the northernmost point on Earth. Here, too, the international team of researchers is investigating the coupling between sea ice, the ocean and its life, including within the deep sea.

Due to sea-ice retreat, zooplankton could remain in the deep longer

New study shows: Climate change is affecting the seasonal vertical migration of zooplankton in the Arctic

Amphipod Themisto libellula
[28. August 2023]  Due to intensifying sea-ice melting in the Arctic, sunlight is now penetrating deeper and deeper into the ocean. Since marine zooplankton respond to the available light, this is also changing their behaviour – especially how the tiny organisms rise and fall within the water column. As an international team of researchers led by the Alfred Wegener Institute has now shown, in the future this could lead to more frequent food shortages for the zooplankton, and to negative effects for larger species including seals and whales. The study was just released in the journal Nature Climate Change.