Press release

International meeting of researchers in the Antarctic

[30. March 2006] 

Cooperation between Germany and Argentina at the Dallmann Laboratory in the Antarctic extended
On April 5, 2006, the continuation contract for scientific cooperation at the Dallmann Laboratory will be signed on King George Island in the Antarctic. Thus, the two directors of the research institutes, Prof Dr Jörn Thiede of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, and Dr Mariano Memolli of the Direccion Nacional del Antartico Buenos Aires, will commit to continuation of a twelve year cooperation.

Dallmann Laboratory on King George Island
The Dallmann Laboratory, established in 1994, represents the first research institution of several nations in the Antarctic. Collaboration of scientists from Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands was contractually agreed upon. Together with the Argentine Jubany Station offering logistical support, the laboratory provides working facilities for biologists and geoscientists. From October to March, the Dallmann Laboratory offers fourteen work spaces with accommodation, including seven laboratories, one workshop, and a storage facility. Internet connections and state of the art equipment, e.g. a nitrogen liquefier used for freezing of biological samples, are all part of the facilities. A decompression chamber represents another distinct feature of the research station; it enables research diving activities which are subject to strict German safety regulations. Several igloo huts supplement the facilities. All waste waters of Jubany Station and Dallmann Laboratory are clarified through a full biological sewage treatment plant.

Potter Cove
Primary focus of the biological investigations is the ecosystem of Potter Cove, the small bay where the research station is located. Assisted by the research dive team, scientists investigate the structure and dynamics of macroalgal and animal communities, and examine the physiology of key species. Studying energy flow through the food web enables further analysis of the structure and functioning of this ecosystem. In conjunction with physiological data, future variability as a result of global environmental changes can be predicted. In this context, the research on macroalgae focuses on the effects of ozone depletion and the associated increase in ultraviolet radiation, on primary production and the marine biosphere.

The International Polar Year
The Dallmann Laboratory will become a central location for international research projects during the International Polar Year 2007/08. One of the projects will investigate the effects of global climate change. In the region of the Antarctic Peninsula, air temperatures have risen significantly over the past 50 years. Among the consequences are larger amounts of melt water reaching coastal biological communities of the Antarctic Peninsula. The associated turbidity of the water drastically reduces light availability for marine algae. Inferior growing conditions for these primary producers lead to less food of poorer quality for zooplankton and bottom dwelling organisms which, in turn, depend on the plankton and its metabolic products. Overall, major changes of food web structure and function are expected.

The Dallmann Laboratory is located at the northern end of the investigated transect along the Antarctic Peninsula. The current state of the ecosystem appears to be representative for other areas and, in the future, is predicted to be found in more southerly regions as well.

Bremerhaven, March 30, 2006

Your contact person is Prof Dr Christian Wiencke (Tel.: 471 4831-1338, E-Mail: cwiencke@awi-bremerhaven.de)

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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.