Potsdam InnoLab for Arctic Research

The Ministry for Science, Research and Culture (Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur - MWFK) of the State of Brandenburg is funding the Potsdam InnoLab with a one-time special state funding of the total cost of 2.75 million euros. The new, innovative equipment and devices are used both in the laboratories in Potsdam and during the annual field campaigns in the Arctic. These are very different devices, for example modular components for cloud observation, analytical and data-based tools for remote sensing in permafrost regions and laboratory equipment for analyzing a wide range of sample series from the atmosphere, soils, ice and water.

Research at Brandenburg's coldest workplaces in the Arctic takes place where very few people notice environmental changes. The polar and sub-polar regions around the North Pole represent an early warning system for global climate change. Hardly any other region in the world has warmed as much in the past few decades as the high northern latitudes. The global greenhouse effect is exacerbated by the release of trace gases from thawing permafrost. The weather in Brandenburg also fluctuates due to long-range atmospheric effects from the Arctic. The north polar seas, coasts and permafrost regions contain unique habitats for people, animals and plants and offer indispensable ecosystem services. In Siberia, for example, the unique ecology of boreal coniferous forests and the tundra is at risk.

The threat to these natural areas from climate change has led to an intensification and increasing awareness of polar research in the Arctic in recent years. The scientific findings are incorporated into climate projections and their importance for future options and governance for action is recognized politically and in the media. One example is the recently completed MOSAiC campaign, the largest polar expedition of all time (MOSAiC - Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate). From fall 2019 to fall 2020, the German research icebreaker POLARSTERN drifted frozen through the Arctic Ocean. The data collected will be valuable for generations to predict the impact of the Arctic on global climate.

In addition to this major campaign, numerous field work activities take place every year in the mainland Arctic and in the adjacent Arctic Ocean. The coast plays a special role as a transition link. Observation networks, floods of big data and sample density are constantly increasing and have to be analyzed in the local laboratories and evaluated with high-performance, computer-aided systems. The rapid development and increasing importance of polar research requires an adaptation of scientific performance to contemporary research methods in order to continue to promote the visibility of polar research in Potsdam and Brandenburg.

The components approved by the MWFK for Potsdam's InnoLab for Arctic Research will significantly support Brandenburg's coldest workplaces and thus contribute to top international research at the AWI Potsdam location, which has produced four ERC award winners in the last six years. Polar research, which is traditionally carried out at a very high level in Potsdam, will be equipped with an even more attractive working environment in the laboratory infrastructure with the funding. It will attract further top researchers and highly qualified staff. As a particular strength, the focus is on the study of the causes of climate change in the polar regions, but also makes direct references to developments in Brandenburg. The components of the InnoLab concentrate on the three research fields at the AWI Potsdam in relation to permafrost dynamics, the spatio-temporal variability of polar terrestrial environmental systems and the role of atmospheric processes in interactions with land-ocean links in the Arctic climate system. The methodological applications are also used in practice-oriented university teaching and in the training of non-academic staff (technical trainees), an aspect that is beneficial for Brandenburg.

Further Information and Contacts

• General Information InnoLab: apl. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Diekmann

• Ecological processes in the terrestrial Arctic: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh

• Permafrost processes in the Arctic: Prof. Dr. Guido Grosse

• Atmospheric processes in the Arctic: Prof. Dr. Markus Rex