Junior Research Groups

The junior research groups at the Alfred Wegener Institute are funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Helmholtz Association and the European Research Council. There are currently 11 such groups at the institute.

Helmholtz Junior Research Groups

With the Helmholtz Junior Research Groups, the Helmholtz Association supports the early independence of young scientists and offers them a reliable career perspective. This programme is designed to provide outstanding working conditions in a research-oriented environment for the best foreign and domestic junior researchers. It is aimed at junior employees who have completed their doctorates within the past two to six years.

Further information about this programme can be found on the pages of the Helmholtz Association

BMBF FONA Programme

Within the framework of the BMBF-FONA-Programme (Research for Sustainable Development), decision bases for future-oriented action will be developed and innovative solutions for a sustainable society will be delivered. With the third framework programme (FONA³), this sustainability research in Germany is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The funding programme "Junior Research Groups on Global Change - 4+1" enables young scientists to meet the challenges of global change with exceptional and innovative research ideas and to find feasible solutions. 

For further information, please visit the website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

ERC Starting Grant Junior Research Groups

ERC Starting Grants support aspiring research group leaders who want to establish a well-equipped research team and conduct independent research in Europe. The programme is aimed at promising researchers with proven potential to become independent leaders of a new and excellent research team. It is aimed at junior employees who have completed their doctorates within the past two to seven years.

For more information, visit the European Research Council website.


ECUS determines the intensity of natural climate fluctuations by systematically analysing natural climate archives such as ice and sediment cores.

Link to the project page


MarESys aims to better understand the current and future CO2 uptake by the ocean and its drivers. To this end, we further develop the marine ecosystem compartment of the Earth System model and apply this in simulations of the last decades and of the future.

Link to the project page


The decline in sea ice is one of the most prominent features of climate change. In addition to the ecological and socio-economic effects of ice loss, the associated changes in the global climate system are becoming increasingly important. Sea ice is not only sensitive to climate change, it also influences it. The aim of the Helmholtz Junior Research Group PALICE is to investigate the interactions between changes in sea ice cover and oceanic and atmospheric circulation during past climate fluctuations.

Link to the project page


The research focus of the EcoTrace Group is to gain a better understanding of the role of trace metals in the ecology of Antarctic microalgae and to clarify the effects of global climate change on microalgae in the Southern Ocean.

Link to the project page


The research focus of the SEAPUMP group is on understanding the role of the ocean and the biological pump in the global carbon cycle. In order to assess the current and future absorption of carbon dioxide by the biological pump, a quantitative understanding of the structure and function of marine food webs and their interaction with export processes is necessary. This is the only way to predict changes in carbon exports.

Link to the project page

The effect of deformation mechanisms for ice sheet dynamics

The large ice masses, stored in the polar ice sheets, are the Earth's main freshwater reservoirs and therefore have a potentially enormous effect on the development of sea level. In particular, the role and development of ice flows such as NEGIS are still highly controversial. IPCC showed that the ice flow dynamics and thus the physical processes of ice movement towards the ocean and estimations are insufficiently understood. The ice flow dynamics must therefore be seen as the main source of error for sea level predictions. We study one of two main components controlling the dynamic flow: the internal deformation of the ice body.

Link to the project page


PermaRisk deals with the simulation of erosion processes in permafrost landscapes against the background of climate change and includes a risk assessment for ecosystems and infrastructure in the Arctic.

Link to the project page


PlanktoSERV assesses the effects of simultaneous changes in temperature, pH, nutrients and salinity on plankton communities, thus contributing to a reliable understanding of future changes in ecosystem services.

Link to the project page


The overarching goal of SSIP (Seamless Sea Ice Prediction) is to advance sea-ice prediction capacity on timescales from hours to years and beyond. Numerous research avenues will be taken towards this goal, along the way how we observe the sea ice as well as the atmosphere and the ocean, how we feed these observations into our forecast models in a process called data assimilation, and how our models simulate the physics that determine how the sea ice ecolves in the future.

Link to the project page


In the PETA-CARB project we are investigating the size, quality and dynamics of carbon repositories in Arctic permafrost soils and deep sediments and combine this with remote sensing studies to make quantitative statements about the landscape dynamics of fast permafrost thawing and its influence on the global carbon cycle.

Link to the project page


SPACE (Space-time structure of climate change) determines the spatial and temporal structure of climate change on time scales from years to millennia. This structure allows us to test climate models, improve our understanding of climate variability and provide a more solid basis for climate reconstruction.

Link to the project page