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Arctic Ocean

Open waters around the North Pole: Arctic sea ice in retreat

Arctic sea-ice cover melts down to an area of 4.14 million sq. km., statistically tied at second lowest in the satellite record with the 2007 minimum

[13. September 2016] 

This September, the Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk to 4.1 million square kilometres (sq km)-the second lowest in the history of satellite measurements. It is exceeded only by the all-time record low of 3.4 million sq km in 2012. "Once again, a massive loss of sea ice in the Arctic," says Prof. Lars Kaleschke from Universität Hamburg's Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN). His colleague Prof. Christian Haas from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) confirms: "The trend continues." Currently, the Northeast and Northwest Passages are navigable at the same time.


Marine Microplastics

Pathogenic bacteria hitchhiking to North and Baltic Seas?

For the first time, AWI scientists have found evidence of living, potentially pathogenic vibrions on microplastic particles

[21. July 2016] 

With increasing water temperatures comes an increasing likelihood of potentially pathogenic bacteria appearing in the North and Baltic Seas. AWI scientists have now proven that a group of such bacteria known as vibrios can survive on microplastic particles. In the future, they want to investigate in greater detail the role of these particles on the accumulation and possible distribution of these bacteria.


Climatology

Long-awaited breakthrough in the reconstruction of warm climate phases

AWI researchers decipher the temperature indicator TEX86 and overcome a seeming weakness of global climate models

[18. July 2016] 

Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have overcome a seeming weakness of global climate models. They had previously not been able to simulate the extreme warm period of the Eocene. One aspect of this era that particularly draws interests to climatologists: It was the only phase in recent history when greenhouse gas concentration was as high as researchers predict it to be for the future.


New Technology

One year alone in the deep sea of the Arctic

First long-term mission of the AWI underwater robot Tramper from the research vessel Polarstern has begun

[18. July 2016] 

Far from any controls, an underwater robot has been working for the past few days in 2,500 metres of water on the seabed of the Arctic, after the completion of a successful test run. Researchers and engineers of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have deployed the deep-sea crawler Tramper for a year-round, fully autonomous mission for the first time. The mobile underwater robot, which has been developed within the Helmholtz Alliance Robotic Exploration of Extreme Environments (ROBEX), will now perform weekly oxygen measurements in the seabed.


Food web

Ice algae: The engine of life in the central Arctic Ocean

Algae that live in and under the sea ice also serve as a nutritional basis for animals living at great depths

[12. July 2016] 

Algae that live in and under the sea ice play a much greater role for the Arctic food web than previously assumed. In a new study, biologists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research showed that not only animals that live directly under the ice thrive on carbon produced by so-called ice algae. Even species that mostly live at greater depth depend to a large extent on carbon from these algae. This also means that the decline of the Arctic sea ice may have far-reaching consequences for the entire food web of the Arctic Ocean. Their results have been published online now in the journal Limnology & Oceanography.


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