Press release

New German Antarctic station Neumayer Station III and new research aircraft POLAR 5

[03. September 2007] 

The Alfred Wegener-Insitute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven is expanding the large research equipment repertoire of the Helmholtz  Association with the research aircraft Polar 5 and the Neumayer-Station III.  On Monday, the federal research minister Annette Schavan came to see the new research aircraft Polar 5 and the Neumayer Station III, which will be shipped to the Antarctic before the end of the year.  During her visit, Schavan emphasized that “polar regions have a fundamental link to the worlds climate conditions.  In order to better understand climate change, we must particularly undertake research in polar regions”.  In support of this, the German federal ministry for education and research is supporting projects such as the Neumayer III and Polar 5 with approximately 34 million euro.The Alfred Wegener Instiute has commissioned the building of the Neumayer III to the Bremerhaven based companies, J.H. Kramer und Kaefer Isoliertechnik.The assembly process in the Antarctic will begin in December.  To ensure that the building in the ice will run smoothly, a great majority of the construction will be test assembled first in Bremerhaven.The building of the Neumayer III station will ensure Germany’s long-term presence in the Antarctic and provide continuity for its scientific research work there.  The station is classified as a piece of so called large equipment belonging to the Helmholz Association, and is an integral part of the International scientific and logistic cooperation in the Antarctic.Neumayer-Station III: Innovation on the ice.The third German research station in the Antarctic is different from its predecessors due to its pipe-like construction concept.  Through innovative construction techniques, a platform will be constructed over the upper snow layer, with installations that are firmly connected to the ground.  The construction will be built on 16 supports with hydraulic lifting devices.  It will be able to be elevated to take into account the changing snow cover during the course of the year.  The two-storey heated building portion will be built on a 68 meter long, 24 meter wide platform within a protective outer covering.  The total height of the construction from the floor of the garage to the roof of the balloon hall will be 29.2 meters.A fundamental feature of the new station will be the hydraulic lifting devices on the supports.  With the aid of these devices the changing snow and ice levels can be taken into consideration, without leaving construction material behind on the ground.  This in itself is important as it fulfills a very important environmental protection role.  This modern building method will allow the station to be used for the next 25-30 years, and will ensure the long-term running of the scientific observatories within the International network framework.  The Neumayer-station III will provide observatories for Meterology, Geophysics, Atmospheric Chemistry and underwater acoustics.The building of the new station presents particular logistical challenges.In order to determine if a particular site on the Ekström-ice shelf was suitable for building, many measurements were carried out over a period of many years.  GPS measurements were performed in the chosen region, to locate an area with minimal ice sheer and drift.  A building site was chosen about six kilometres south of the existing Neumayer-station, where the ice-drift was found to be 157 meters per year.It is thought that in the course of 25 years, the stations positioning will change around four kilometres.  As about 2300 tons of construction material would be sitting on top of the ice, further studies into the weight-bearing capabilities of the icy foundations were also necessary.  The statics of the station will be appropriately laid out to take into account the possible sheering forces, and influence of possible high wind speeds. As a result of wind tunnel experiments, an optimally aerodynamic form for the outer layer of the station was determined.  The shape of the building, combined with the garage covering was conceived in such a way that snow deposition close to the building will be reduced to a minimum.Approximately 3500 tonnes of building material, machinery and other equipment needs to be transported by ship from Bremerhaven to the Ekström Ice shelf.  With help of the Dronning Maud Land Air Network (DROMLAN), it is possible to reach the Neumayer-station by aircraft in only two days. The airlift link from Cape Town to the Antarctic began in 2003 and is supported by eleven countries.  The new research aircraft Polar 5 will also be transported to the Antarctic via this route.Polar 5: A wide range for far reaching research.The Alfred-Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research will take delivery of a new research aircraft: Polar 5.  The plane, which will be put into operation in October, is a Basler BT-67 (Basler Turbo Conversion LLC), and was developed specially for polar research.  The aircraft offers special characteristics and its scientific equipment are intended for long term use in order to successfully meet the research requirements of the Alfred Wegener Insitute.  Polar 5 has a range of about 2900 kilometers.  The polar-aircraft is also able to take off from heights over 3800 meters on the Antarctic Plateau.  The new craft is robust and low maintenance, and any maintenance that is required can be undertaken on site.  The body of the Basler BT-67 is based on a modification of the Douglas DC-3, known historically as a „Rosinenbomber.The efficient generators allow for a large variety of measuring equipment on board.  Scientific instruments will allow measurements of ice thickness, topography, and atmospheric parameters.  Polar 5 will also able to be used for personnel transport, as well as for the supply of expedition camps.  The German federal ministry for education and research (BMBF) has contributed 8.1 million Euro for the realisation of this aircraft.  Once in service, a new partnership with the Canadian company, Enterprise Air Inc. Oshawa will take place, and they will help with the running of the research aircraft.  The location of Polar 5 will be the regional airport in Bremerhaven.More Information and material about the new Antarctic Station can be found on our internet site: contact person for the Neumayer station III is Dr Hartwig Gernandt (Tel. 0471/4831-1160, E-Mail:, and for Polar 5 Dr. Andreas Herber (Tel. 0471/4831-1489, E-Mail: Your contact person in the public relations department is Dr. Angelika Dummermuth (Tel: 0471/4831-1742; E-Mail:



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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.