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

When the sea ice melts, juvenile polar cod may go hungry

The Arctic

When the sea ice melts, juvenile polar cod may go hungry

Polar cod fulfil a key role in the Arctic food web, as they are a major source of food for seals, whales and seabirds alike. But the polar cod themselves might soon be the hungry ones.

Adventure in the Ice

The MOSAiC Expedition

Adventure in the Ice

Two-and-a-half years from now, the research vessel Polarstern will depart on an adventurous expedition. For an entire year, the ship will drift through the Arctic, stuck in the pack ice. Using this approach, the researchers hope to gain new insights into climate change.

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

Polarstern Expedition

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

Under the ice of the Arctic, unknown habitats conceal an unexpected variety of living beings. On October 23rd, 46 scientists are expected to return to the home port in Bremerhaven from an Arctic expedition with the research vessel Polarstern. Over the past six weeks, they had explored life in ice, ocean and seabed with new robots and camera systems.

Open waters around the North Pole: Arctic sea ice in retreat

Arctic Ocean

Open waters around the North Pole: Arctic sea ice in retreat

This September, the Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk to 4.1 million square kilometres (sq km)-the second lowest in the history of satellite measurements. It is exceeded only by the all-time record low of 3.4 million sq km in 2012. "Once again, a massive loss of sea ice in the Arctic," says Prof. Lars Kaleschke from Universität Hamburg's Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability (CEN). His colleague Prof. Christian Haas from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) confirms: "The trend continues." Currently, the Northeast and Northwest Passages are navigable at the same time.

Researchers simulate the emergence of leads in sea ice

Sea-ice modelling

Researchers simulate the emergence of leads in sea ice

Scientists from the Alfred-Wegener-Institute (AWI) and the University of Hamburg have succeeded in realistically simulating the emergence of large channels in the Artic sea-ice in a computer model. Two approaches were decisive for this success: On the one hand, the researchers had increased the spatial resolution of the FESOM AWI sea-ice ocean model. On the other hand, they were able to improve the numerical solution to the equation so that the simulation of the lead formation holds up well when compared to real sea-ice satellite data. They reported this success in a study that appeared online in the professional journal, Geophysical