40 years of research at the poles of our world

On December 9, 2022, Polarstern will be 40 years old. Since the commissioning in 1982, Polarstern has covered more than 1.8 million nautical miles. That is about 3.5 million kilometers, which corresponds to almost 86 circumnavigations of the earth at the height of the equator. Today, she is still one of the most powerful research icebreakers in the world and the flagship of the Alfred Wegener Institute.

Icon of German polar research

On more than 300 days, the german research icebreaker Polarstern is at home on our oceans. With its double-walled steel hull, it can easily navigate through 1.5-meter-thick ice and also spend the winter in the ice of the polar seas. For the researchers on board, the motto during the one-year-long MOSAiC expedition in the Arctic was: Attention, please dress warmly! Up to -50 degrees Celsius are no challenge for the Polarstern.

Well equipped on expedition

The approximately 100 people on board, consisting of 44 crew members and a maximum of 55 scientists, are equipped on expeditions with up to two helicopters, various inflatable boats and many other technical research devices. Depending on the research focus, the ship is constantly re-equipped. In addition, Polarstern is still "the supplier" of Neumayer Station III, bringing food, IT equipment and hardware store equipment to the Antarctic.

Where does Polarstern celebrate her birthday?

At the time of its birthday, the Polarstern is on the way back from an expedition east of South Georgia on its way to Punta Arenas. An international team has been studying the biogeochemical fluxes of substances from the island's glaciers into the fjords as well as the open ocean. Curious? Then follow the research icebreaker live in our web app and see live weather data and the ship's current position.

40 Years Polarstern Quiz

What amount of money was allocated for the construction of the Polarstern? Why does the working deck not ice up in some places?... And how much does a ship like this actually weigh?

Click here for the ultimate test with informative answers and explanations. (only available in German)

40 Jahre Polarstern - Happy Birthday!