The EASI-3 expedition will focus on recording glacial structures on the shelf and the continental slope, for example the fossilised traces of ice masses on the sea floor. With geophysical measurements, the researchers led by expedition leader Prof Dr Sebastian Krastel from the Institute of Geosciences at Kiel University can look even further back into the Earth’s history. The geophysicist explains: “By combining various geophysical systems from Kiel University, the AWI and Australian colleagues, we can map subsurface structures at different depths with the best possible resolution. This allows us to look as much as 1000 metres into the sea floor and identify characteristic structures that enable us to reconstruct different states of the ice sheets in the past.” Based on the geophysical measurements, extensive marine geological work will also take place during the EASI-3 expedition. “There is very little information on the possible control mechanisms of ice instabilities from the working area so far, although it can be assumed that this region will react particularly sensitively to future climate change. This is what makes our interdisciplinary work so valuable,” explains Prof Dr Julia Gottschalk from Kiel University.
The marine work during both expeditions will be complemented by land-based work by an international research team from the University of Cologne, the Technical University of Dresden and Australian colleagues. This will provide the researchers with a seamless connection to the Antarctic continent.
With fresh impressions of the sea or anticipation of the upcoming expedition, some of the Polarstern expedition participants will meet colleagues from Australian research in early February 2024. There will be a celebratory reception in Hobart, Tasmania, where there will be an exchange with scientific institutions and political interest groups to mark the first port call of the flagship of German polar research in Australia. After a stopover in South Africa, the Polarstern will then embark on its return transit and is expected back in its home port of Bremerhaven in mid-May.
The EASI expeditions are part of the Helmholtz Association’s programme-oriented funding (PoF) in the research programme “Changing Earth - Sustaining our Future”, in which AWI and GEOMAR are involved. For Kiel University, the expeditions provide important impetus for research within the university’s research focus Kiel Marine Science (KMS). The researchers are funded by the priority programme “Antarctic Research” of the German Research Foundation (DFG), among others.