Polar patterns - The Polar Seas from a Bird's Perspective

Ever-changing and ever new: In the Arctic and Antarctica, frost and the sun, waves, water and the wind create perpetually changing tints and shades, shapes and patterns. In order to capture the beauty of this interplay, one must take-off and take a bird’s eye view on the polar landscapes. A perspective that only polar researchers like AWI sea ice physicists on their routine survey flights above the ice are lucky enough to slip into. On each of those flights, one or two photographic cameras keep record of the landscape at the scientists’ feet. Pointing vertically downwards, the camera is mounted in the hull of the research aircraft or installed in the torpedo shaped body of the EM-bird – a sea ice thickness measurement device that can be dragged by the research aircraft or a helicopter. The past years of research did hence not only result in new scientific knowledge about sea ice, but also in truly fascinating images, picked by AWI sea ice physicist Stefan Hendricks.

News

The latest findings on the MOSAiC floe

Bivalve ice with pebbles

The latest findings on the MOSAiC floe

The New Siberian Islands were the birthplace of the MOSAiC floe: the sea ice in which the research vessel Polarstern is now drifting through the Arctic was formed off the coast of the archipelago, which separates the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea to the north of Siberia, in December 2018. Sediments, and even small pebbles and bivalves, were incorporated into the ice during the freezing process, which the on-going melting process has brought to light on the surface of the MOSAiC floe.

Can Arctic ‘ice management’ combat climate change?

Modelling

Can Arctic ‘ice management’ combat climate change?

According to a much-debated geo-engineering approach, both sea-ice retreat and global warming could be slowed by using millions of wind-powered pumps, drifting in the sea ice, to promote ice formation during the Arctic winter. AWI researchers have now, for the first time, tested the concept using a complex climate model and published their findings in the journal Earth’s Future. Their verdict is sobering: though the approach could potentially put off ice-free Arctic summers for a few more decades, beyond the Arctic the massive campaign wouldn’t produce any meaningful cooling effect.

Low sea-ice cover in the Arctic

Arctic Sea Ice

Low sea-ice cover in the Arctic

The sea-ice extent in the Arctic is nearing its annual minimum at the end of the melt season in September. Only circa 3.9 million square kilometres of the Arctic Ocean are covered by sea ice any more, according to researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the University of Bremen. This is only the second time that the annual minimum has dropped below four million square kilometres since satellite measurements began in 1979.