Press release

Arctic conference in Potsdam

[15. March 2006] 

From March 22 to March 29, the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) will take place in Potsdam. Internationally, the conference, hosted jointly by international organisations and the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, represents one of the most significant interdisciplinary meetings for Arctic research. Apart from numerous scientific federations, the Arctic Council will also deliberate in Potsdam. During the meeting week, long-term perspectives for international Arctic research will be defined and coordinated by the participants. With the upcoming International Polar Year (IPY) 2007/2008, this year’s meeting will be particularly significant.

Meetings, committees and forums
Through a series of forums and committees, some of them public, the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), European Polar Board (EPB), Arctic Ocean Science Board (AOSB) and Pacific Arctic Group (PAG) will review the most recent discoveries in Arctic research and address new project plans. In addition, the Forum of Arctic Research Operators (FARO), Ny-Ålesund Science Managers Committee (NySMAC), International Permafrost Association (IPA) and the Arctic Council will also gather in Potsdam. Leading representatives of the Arctic Council will discuss results of, and required responses to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment Report (ACIA), a study commissioned by the council addressing the situation of humans and environment in the Arctic. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental forum with high-ranking representatives from the eight Arctic nations and scientific organisations.

A science day on Saturday, March 25 and a project day on Sunday, March 26 will be central to the event. March 25 will see the presentation of current issues focussing on the ‘Effects of climate change on the Arctic’. “Receding sea ice, melting glaciers and thawing permafrost, ecosystem changes and acute threats to animal species are some of the subjects that will be presented and discussed at the scientific symposium”, explains Prof Dr Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten from the Postdam research unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute and member of the national organising committee.

On March 26, planning of the International Polar Year 2007/2008 will be the focus of the day. Participants will discuss current research needs and coordinate the deployment of research vessels and ship time throughout the polar year. In addition, the agenda includes planning and establishment of observatories for long-term data recordings of climate-induced changes in the Arctic.

One year before the official start of the fourth International Polar Year on March 1, 2007, the countdown at the Alfred Wegener Institute has begun. Within this enormous project, thousands of scientists from all over the world will explore the Arctic and Antarctic. Particular emphasis is placed on the effect of polar regions on global climate, and the consequences of recent climate change. For this purpose, current environmental conditions in the polar regions are recorded across a broad spatial scale. The International Polar Year 2007-2008 was initiated by, and will be conducted under the patronage of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). With contributing scientists from over 60 nations, the International Polar Year represents the largest cooperative scientific event in history. Since preparations began in 2003, far more than a thousand project proposals have been submitted to the international planning team, and currently, some 400 of these have been accepted. Scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute are participating, often in leading roles, in more than 50 of these international partnerships. One of Germany’s investments has been the construction of the new Antarctic station of the Alfred Wegener Institute. The remaining year until the official start of the Polar Year will be used primarily for intensive preparations, mutual coordination of scientific projects, and for logistic resource management.

The Arctic Science Summit Week is held annually. Following the 2005 ASSW in Kunming, China, this year’s meeting is hosted jointly with the French Institut Polaire Français Paul Emile Victor. The Alfred Wegener Institute has taken responsibility for local organisation in Potsdam. Throughout the duration of meeting, scientific results from German research teams will be presented in poster format to a high-ranking international audience.

Additional information about the meeting is available at:
Information about the science and project days can be accessed from:

Bremerhaven, March 15, 2006


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Das Institut

Das Alfred-Wegener-Institut forscht in den Polarregionen und Ozeanen der mittleren und hohen Breiten. Als eines von 19 Forschungszentren der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft koordiniert es Deutschlands Polarforschung und stellt Schiffe wie den Forschungseisbrecher Polarstern und Stationen für die internationale Wissenschaft zur Verfügung.