Our team elucidates the structure, origin, transformation, aggregation, ecological function and distribution of organic compounds in the changing polar ocean.

We aim to understand the function of marine organic compounds, both, as diagnostic markers to decode biogeochemical processes and as drivers of chemical interactions between species.

Organic molecules

  • render or result from important physiological processes of polar organisms, e. g. during photosynthesis, nutrient acquisition and storage of energy.

  • orchestrate species interactions affecting organismal abundance, physiology, performance, resilience and adaptation.

  • represent fingerprints of organic matter transformations and can thus serve as biogeochemical proxies.


Dr. Scarlett Trimborn

Prof. Dr. Boris Koch
Prof. Dr. Tilmann Harder

Gesa Duhme

News & Facts

Winners and Losers of Atlantification: The Degree of Ocean Warming Affects the Structure of Arctic Microbial Communities

The concurrent effects of atlantification warming show a clear thermal limit for many Arctic microbes between 6°C and 9°C with differential functional implications for the ecosystem.


Expedition to Svalbard in summer 2023

Investigation  of changes in oceanographic properties as well as plankton diversity and activities and their effects on primary production and biogeochemical fluxes along a gradient of atlantification.

R/V Heincke: 12.08 - 03.09.2023


MIDIDARC & MarineBasis-Nuuk

AWI scientists Sylke Wohlrab and Jakob Giesler participated in this year's MarineBasis-Nuuk Monitoring Expedition to collect samples for their MIDIDARC project (Microbial Diversity of Arctic Diatom Microbiomes).

R/V Sanna, Nuuk, Greenland

Research topics and key questions

We contribute to the program-oriented research within the Helmholtz Society:

Topic 6: Marine and Polar Life: Sustaining Biodiversity, Biotic Interactions, and Biogeochemical Functions

  • Subtopic 6.1 Future ecosystem functionality
  • Subtopic 6.2 Adaptation of marine life
  • Subtopic 6.3 The future biological carbon pump

Publications of the Section