Our Mission

The Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute started its work in 1992. The scientific focus is the investigation of polar land-ocean-atmosphere linkages, complementing the marine and coastal research fields at the AWI sites in Bremerhaven, Sylt, and Helogland. This implies modeling and experimental investigations of atmospheric processes in the polar regions (AWI Research Division: Atmospheric Physics). Another field are geoscientific studies in the permafrost regions, which deal with the past and future fate of frozen ground, carbon cycling, coastal erosion, and changes in ecology (AWI Research Division: Permafrost Research and Research Group: Polar Terrestrial Environments). The scientists in Potsdam carry out expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. They are mainly devoted to Arctic research - in particular in the permanently frozen areas of Siberia and the Arctic island group Spitzbergen - and provide a key to understanding of climate change in Europe.


Potsdam InnoLab for Arctic Research

In 2020, the Ministry of Science, Research and Culture (MWFK) of the State of Brandenburg approved a one-time special funding of 2.75 million euros for the operation of the Potsdam InnoLab for Arctic Research


Air, Permafrost, Vegetation and Climate of the Past

These elements provide Potsdam's polar researchers with the necessary information on natural climate changes. Both short-term climate changes in modern times and complex fluctuations of the climate over long periods of time can be understood. The polar regions with their huge ice caps, extensive sea ice areas, complex atmospheric processes as well as the land regions with permanently frozen ground, tundra veh´getation and boreal forests react sensitively to climate fluctuations. The scientists reveal environmental changes related to modern warming and reconstruct natural climatic changes of the past with the help of climate archives, for example terrestrial sediments. This makes it possible to demonstrate the onset and importance of human influences on climate and to predict the effects of future interventions in the system.


German Arctic Office & Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS)

Since 2017, the German Arctic Office at AWI Potsdam serves as an information and cooperation platform for German stakeholders invested in Arctic science, politics and industry. It enhances the visibility of Germany's  engagement in the Arctic on a national and international level. level. 

The APECS Office (Association of Polar Early Career Scientists) is located at AWI Potsdam. It represents an international and interdisciplinary organization for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, early faculty members, educators and others with interests in Polar Regions and the wider cryosphere.


Science Campus & Regional Networking

The AWI Potsdam is part of the Campus Albert Einstein on the historical site of the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam. In addition to AWI, the following institutions are located on Telegrafenberg, which collaborate with AWI in science and administration:

  • Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ)
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP)

AWI Potsdam is involved in a number of stakeholder activities in regional networks for scientific and public outreach:

  • Research Network for Geosciences in Berlin and Potsdam (Geo.X)
  • proWissen Potsdam e.V. (proWissen)
  • Landesvereinigung außeruniversitäre Forschung in Brandenburg (LAUF)
  • Potsdam Research Network (pearls)
  • Potsdam Summer School (PSS)