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.

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Sustainable collaboration: Using the AWI’s polar aircraft in the Harz

Sustainable collaboration: Using the AWI’s polar aircraft in the Harz

In Germany, the Harz is a region particularly hard hit by climate change: storms, arid conditions and subsequent bark beetle infestations are causing unprecedented damage to the forest. Sea-ice experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute are now helping to quantify the damage and contributing to the success of reforestation efforts – from the air. To carry out essential equipment tests for an upcoming Arctic campaign, they are engaging in survey flights over the Harz, during which they're putting their new, high-resolution camera systems through their paces.

Polarstern Expedition to the Arctic Ice

Polarstern Expedition to the Arctic Ice

Das Forschungsschiff Polarstern bricht heute zu einer gut siebenwöchigen Fahrt in die Arktis auf, wo mit dem Sommer die jährliche Meereisschmelze eingesetzt hat. Die sommerliche Ausdehnung des Meereises ist in den vergangenen 40 Jahren um 40 Prozent zurückgegangen – eine der sichtbarsten Folgen des Klimawandels. Wie Wärmeflüsse und Wasserschichtung im Ozean sowie die Eiseigenschaften die Meereisschmelze kontrollieren und miteinander wechselwirken, wird das Forschungsteam in der Meereisrandzone untersuchen.

Intense glacial melting confirms changed wind patterns in the Arctic

Nature Study

Intense glacial melting confirms changed wind patterns in the Arctic

Over the past twenty years, glaciers in northern Canada and on Spitsbergen have lost a total of 44 billion metric tons of ice a year. To date, the melting in these regions has been influenced by powerful westerly winds. A team of international researchers, led by the Alfred Wegener Institute, has now determined that both regions are characterised by increased, alternating inflows of cold air from the north and warm air from the south.