Press release

Dallmann Laboratory celebrates 10th anniversary of international cooperative work in Antarctica

[13. January 2004] 

Ten years Dallmann Laboratory

On January 19, 2004, the Dallmann Laboratory on King George Island in Antarctica will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Biologists and geoscientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) use this laboratory, which is located on a shallow bay, for investigations of ice-free areas and nearshore shallow waters. This is only possible in few Antarctic localities since most of the coast is covered with thick shelf-ice or glaciers.

Research

The main focus of research for the Dallmann Laboratory is the investigation of Potter Cove, a coastal bay ecosystem with a pronounced tidal zone. Scientists investigate the effects of global environmental change on Antarctic communities. The thinning of the ozone layer is particularly marked in Antarctica, and, consequently, more ultra-violet radiation reaches the earth's surface. Currently, one of the research groups at the Dallmann Laboratory is investigating the impacts of increased UV radiation on seaweed communities. These so-called algal "forests" directly or indirectly provide food for many animal species. A reduction in algal growth could also lead to a decline in crab and fish populations. In laboratory studies, AWI scientists have already been able to document negative effects of increased UV radiation on the growth of certain species of algae. Throughout this current year, biologists are investigating communities of seaweed species in their natural environment, rather than concentrating on individuals in the laboratory.


International cooperation

The AWI has shared responsibility for founding and maintaining the Dallmann Laboratory with the Instituto Antártico Argentino (Argentina). In 1996, the Netherlands Geoscience Foundation joined the group. The King George Island laboratory is open when climatic conditions are favourable, i.e. during the austral summer between October and March. The laboratory is associated with the Argentinian station of Jubany, which is open year-round. The Dallmann Laboratory is named after Captain Eduard Dallmann from Bremen who led the first German expedition to the Antarctic peninsula in 1873, mapping the regions he discovered. Three laboratories, two aquarium rooms, a workshop, a storage area and several "igloo cabins" provide accommodation and work facilities for twelve people. During the anniversary year, four more laboratories, as well as a decompression chamber will be added. The latter will allow SCUBA diving to 30 m water depth in accordance with strict German safety regulations.


Publications
Among the wide range of topics investigated in the Dallmann Laboratory over the past 10 years are the social behaviour of sea elephants, cold adaptations of Antarctic mussels and the impact of increased UV radiation on amphipods. During this time period, more than 100 scientific articles have been published in top-ranking international journals. In addition, the AWI published the results of co-operative work at the Dallmann Laboratory entitled "The Potter Cove coastal ecosystem, Antarctica” as part of the series “Berichte zur Polarforschung”.

Bremerhaven, 13th January 2004

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The Institute

The Alfred Wegener Institute pursues research in the polar regions and the oceans of mid and high latitudes. As one of the 19 centres of the Helmholtz Association it coordinates polar research in Germany and provides ships like the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations for the international scientific community.