Press release

Science tracing Wegener’s tracks

[14. October 2005] 

From October 30th to November 2nd, scientists will be gathering for the second International Alfred Wegener Symposium in Bremerhaven. During the three-day meeting, approximately 140 scientists from eleven countries will report on topical issues from various research fields, including plate tectonics, geosciences, meteorology, paleoclimatology, glaciology, history of science and geo-topics of the future.

The conference, marking Alfred Wegener’s 125th birthday and the 75th anniversary of his death, will take place at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research and at the Deutsches Schiffahrtsmuseum in Bremerhaven. Alfred Lothar Wegener, German polar researcher and founder of the theory of continental drift, was born in Berlin on November 1, 1880. His ideas and research results have improved our knowledge of weather (meteorology), ice (glaciology) and stars (astronomy), as well as our understanding of geology and geophysics. To date, Wegener is still considered one of the most important German polar researchers, and his theory of drifting continents has been visionary. At only fifty years of age, Wegener died in early November 1930 on the Greenland ice.

From tsunamis to the birth of the moon
The opening presentation at the symposium will be given by Alfred Wegener’s grandson: Dr Günther Schönhartig will review the history and future perspectives of continental drift research. A total of 50 oral and 70 poster presentations will provide ample stimuli for discussion and exchange of ideas. The event will be the second of its kind since the original symposium in 1980. Aside from a historical review, emphasis will be placed on the current state of knowledge and the future perspectives of Wegener’s research fields. Presentation topics include tsunamis, a map of tectonically active regions on earth (world stress map), the causes for the melting of the Greenland ice shield, the microclimate of glaciers and a new theory about the genesis of the moon.

Wegener’s heirs
Wegener’s scientific approaches and especially his way of thinking across disciplinary boundaries continue to provide direction. At the Alfred Wegener Institute, atmospheric physics, glaciology and plate tectonics are the research areas particularly fostered. Apart from a better understanding of the scientific fundaments, scientists also expect insights and better predictions in relation to currently occurring global climate changes.

Alongside the symposium, congress participants and invited guests will have the opportunity to attend a gala event on November 1st at Bremerhaven’s city theatre, celebrating the great polar researcher through music, theatre and historic film presentations. Media representatives will be able to register for attendance of the symposium and gala event.

Further information about the second International Alfred Wegener Symposium is available at:

Contact: Dr. Martina Kunz-Pirrung
Tel. 0471/4831-1236


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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.