The Svalbard archipelago is located east of Greenland in the Arctic Ocean. The archipelago is home to Ny-Ålesund, one of the northernmost settlements in the world. Depending on the season, between 30 and 120 people from all over the world live together here. The small town is a hotspot of international Arctic research - eleven countries operate stations and research laboratories here. France and Germany maintain a particularly close cooperation, jointly operating the AWIPEV research base.
The AWIPEV base was established in 2003 when the German Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) and the French Institut Paul-Émile Victor (IPEV) merged their previously independent Koldewey and Rabot stations to form the AWIPEV base. Since then, scientists from both countries have been conducting joint research on the effects of climate change in the Arctic as part of the Ny-Ålesund Research Station coordinated by Norway.
The main task of the AWIPEV research base is basic research in environmental sciences. For this purpose, numerous laboratories for physical, biological and chemical investigations as well as living and recreation rooms for the researchers are available here. Since 2005, they have also been able to use the marine research laboratory of the Norwegian operator Kings-Bay for marine biological work. The station also serves as a base for expeditions to the Ny-Ålesund area and to West Spitsbergen.
A centerpiece of AWI's research at Ny-Ålesund is the Atmospheric Observatory, which is used to observe the atmosphere from the ground to the stratosphere. With the help of a wide variety of instruments, the researchers can measure meteorological variables, radiation parameters, and the properties and concentrations of aerosols and trace gases (e.g., ozone) in the troposphere and stratosphere. In this way, they also document climatic and atmospheric changes in the polar regions. In marine biology, AWI is also investigating how marine organisms in the fjords of Spitsbergen react to increased UV radiation and increasing ocean acidification. The geosciences, on the other hand, focus on changes in permafrost soils and glacier systems.