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Fascinating discovery

World's largest fish breeding area discovered in Antarctica

Researchers detect around 60 million nests of Antarctic icefish over a 240 square kilometres area in the Weddell Sea

[Translate to English:] Fischnester im Weddellmeer
[13. January 2022] 

Near the Filchner Ice Shelf in the south of the Antarctic Weddell Sea, a research team has found the world's largest fish breeding area known to date. A towed camera system photographed and filmed thousands of nests of icefish of the species Neopagetopsis ionah on the seabed. The density of the nests and the size of the entire breeding area suggest a total number of about 60 million icefish breeding at the time of observation.


Arctic coasts in transition

Permafrost researchers analyse the drivers of rapidly changing Arctic coasts and the implications for humans and environment

Eisreiche Permafrostböden auf Bol'shoy Lyakhovsky, Neusibirische Inseln
[11. January 2022] 

Arctic coasts are characterized by sea ice, permafrost and ground ice. This makes them particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which is already accelerating rapid coastal erosion. In a special issue of the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute describe the sensitivity of Arctic coasts to climate change and the challenges for humans and nature. 

Expedition start

How unstable is the East Antarctic Ice Sheet?

Polarstern expedition explores the geological history of Antarctica; the expedition launches the new Polarstern app

FS Polarstern at the ice shelf edge
[10. January 2022] 

On the 6th of January, the research vessel Polarstern set off from Cape Town in South Africa for an expedition of around eight weeks to the Antarctic. Extensive preventative measures have allowed the Alfred Wegener Institute to tackle important research on former instabilities of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet despite the the COVID-19 pandemic, which will be continued on two further planned expeditions in the coming years. Interested parties can follow this and subsequent Polarstern expeditions live in a new app.

Arctic Ocean

Meltwater influences ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean

Freshwater from sea ice delays the biological carbon pump by four months

Polarstern-Expedition ARK-XXVII/1
[15. December 2021] 

In the summer months, sea ice from the Arctic drifts through Fram Strait into the Atlantic. Thanks to meltwater, a stable layer forms around the drifting ice atop the more salty seawater, producing significant effects on biological processes and marine organisms. In turn, this has an effect on when carbon from the atmosphere is absorbed and stored, as a team of researchers led by the Alfred Wegener Institute has now determined with the aid of the FRAM ocean observation system. Their findings have just been published in the journal Nature Communications.

Climate Change

Drought risk in the Northern Hemisphere rises with intensified warming

New climate model analysis projects an expansion of subtropical arid zones; risk of frequent extremely dry summers, especially in the Mediterranean

Dried out sunflower field
[02. December 2021] 

Over the next few decades, anthropogenic climate change and the resultant changes in the global water cycle will produce a significant rise in drought frequency in the Northern Hemisphere. An international team of scientists led by climate researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute arrive at this conclusion in a new study released today in the journal npj Climate and Atmospheric Science. The experts analysed climate simulations produced by the latest generation of models for three different emissions-and-development scenarios and investigated the extent to which the summer drought risk will change in regions throughout the Northern Hemisphere.