PS95.1 Weekly Report No. 1| 29 October till 1 November 2015

The “floating summer school” begins

[03. November 2015] 

On Tuesday October 29, 2015 was cast off at 13:00 h on the dot. Two tugboats maneuvered Polarstern into the lock. Once in the Weser she starts steaming and leaves Bremerhaven southbound for the Antarctic season 2015/16. 43 crew members as well as 52 scientists and students are on board.

During the transit cruise from Bremerhaven to Cape Town hydro-acoustic equipment is tested and calibrated, which will be operated during the upcoming Antarctic-Season. Furthermore scientists from the “Leibnitz Institute for Tropospheric Research” in Leipzig will conduct measurements as to the exchange processes between water and atmosphere.  The major part of the scientific crew composes of students attending the “floating summer school”. In total 470 students applied for the opportunity to take part in the Polarstern expedition. 32 students from 19 countries (fig.1) were picked out and may now, on the way to Cape Town, participate in the education program within different disciplines of biological oceanography. They will gain practical experience in how to take samples, how to carry out measurements and how to operate equipment on sea. The program is organized by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), the Partnership of Observation of Global Oceans (POGO) and the Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re). It is supported by the Nippon Foundation and the Stiftung Marcator.

When we left Bremerhaven the weather was cold and foggy, but already on our way to the English Channel the sun came through and all of a sudden carrying and unpacking the boxes became much easier. There was much work to be done and from the very beginning everybody was busy and full of expectations. Even the wind was on our side and didn’t hardly show, which made the beginning of “rolling marine research” easier to many. Already after one and a half days we carried out our first sampling on Saturday. By means of an XBT (Expendable Bathythermograph) we measured the water temperature. This device has been developed to measure the water temperature from a moving vessel. The measuring head in thrown into the water and a ca. 1700 m long thin copper wire, which unwinds, transmits the measured dated to a computer (fig.2).


On Sunday we carried out the first big station at the end of the Channel. 09:00 o’clock the ship was stopped and the CTD employed. Next to the CTD measurements of water temperature, salinity, turbidity and chlorophyll samples were collected in the water column with different nets. Following, the organisms were determined and counted and experiments were conducted together with measurements of production. In the next weekly reports we will learn what this exactly means, what the team of tropospheric research measures on board Polarstern, which problems may occur when calibrating hydro-acoustic equipment and what this has to do with the motion-sensor.


Best regards from an almost calm and sunny Biscay


Rainer Knust



Scientific Coordination

Rainer Knust
Rainer Knust


Sanne Bochert
Sanne Bochert