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From River Weser to the North Sea

PLAWES investigates microplastics contamination across ecosystems

[20. September 2017] 

Around the globe, the pollution of rivers, lakes and seas with plastic litter is on the rise. A new project jointly coordinated by the University of Bayreuth and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is the first to approach the problem from a holistic perspective. In the model region Weser – Wadden Sea National Park the participating researchers will use e.g. empirical and model-assisted analyses to discover how minute plastic particles (microplastics) make their way from land to sea, which input and transport routes are involved (and to which extent), and what risks this contamination poses for various ecosystems.

Sea Ice Minimum 2017

Arctic sea ice once again shows considerable melting

With a minimum extent of ca. 4.7 million square kilometres, Arctic sea ice continues to retreat

[14. September 2017] 

This September, the extent of Arctic sea ice shrank to roughly 4.7 million square kilometres, as was determined by researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute, the University of Bremen and Universität Hamburg. Though slightly larger than last year, the minimum sea ice extent 2017 is average for the past ten years and far below the numbers from 1979 to 2006. The Northeast Passage was traversable for ships without the need for icebreakers.

Good news from the Arctic

AWI’s underwater robot Tramper successfully recovered

After nearly 60 weeks of measuring the oxygen content on the ocean floor

[30. August 2017] 

On 27 August 2017, deep-sea researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute recovered the underwater robot Tramper, which had been taking measurements at a depth of 2435 metres for nearly 60 weeks – the first long-term mission involving a crawler under the Arctic sea ice. For the first 24 weeks, the robot took biogeochemical readings at various sites, just as it was intended to. Unfortunately, because of a broken tread, Tramper got stuck in the same place in January, though it continued to record the oxygen content in the sediment.


Polar 6 is the first German research aircraft to traverse the North Pole

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute measure sea-ice thickness in the Arctic

[29. August 2017] 

At 2:10 pm UTC on 22 August 2017, the Polar 6 became the first German research aircraft to fly over the North Pole. The aircraft “departed from (10:11 am UTC) and returned to (5:00 pm UTC) Station North (81.5°N, 16W)”, as Dr Thomas Krumpen reported in an email sent from Greenland. The sea-ice physicist from the Alfred Wegener Institute is heading the current measuring campaign, TIFAX (Thick Ice Feeding Arctic Export), in the course of which the participating researchers will measure sea ice thickness.

Nature Communications Study

New findings on the past and future of sea ice cover in the Arctic

Despite the high temperatures, geologists and climate researchers find evidence that there was sea ice at the North Pole during the last interglacial

[29. August 2017] 

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently climbing two to three times faster than the global average. The result – and, thanks to feedback effects, also the cause – is dwindling sea ice. In a study published in the actual volume of Nature Communications, geo- and climate researchers at the Alfred-Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar- and Marine Research (AWI) show that, in the course of our planet’s history, summertime sea ice was to be found in the central Arctic in periods characterised by higher global temperatures – but less CO2 – than today.