25 years of the Arctic Station in Svalbard
25 years ago, the German Arctic Station in Svalbard was officially opened by the former directors of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Prof. Gotthilf Hempel and Dr Rainer Paulenz, as well as the BMBF State Secretary, Mr. Bernd Neumann.
The Koldewey Station originated from a joint cooperation with the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Norwegian operating company Kingsbay along with sponsorship from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It was (and still is) the first non-Norwegian station in Ny Ålesund operating all year round. In 2003, the stations "Koldewey" and "Rabot" were merged into a modern German-French Community Station AWIPEV.
In 1988, the AWI started its first seasonal research work in Ny Ålesund, Svalbard. The scientific motivation was the exploration of the arctic ozone layer, especially in winter and spring, which required staying there throughout the winter. The establishment of the station and the good working conditions locally allowed for the quick expansion of the scientific spectrum of tasks to include atmosphere-chemical, biological and geo-physical topics. To this day, the topic of climate change and its impact on life in the Arctic is of central importance for the observatories and project work conducted at AWIPEV station.
With the new station, AWI became one of the founding members of the Ny Ålesund Science Managers Committee (NySMAC) and was host to the first NySMAC seminar in 1995 in Potsdam. The station was, and still is, the basis for many BMBF, DFG, and EU commission-funded research projects and continuously delivers data for international measuring networks.
The present day AWIPEV base is manned by a team of three German and French members who maintain the observatories throughout the winter to conduct research on climate and atmosphere, permafrost, marine ecology and glaciology. Additionally, there are measuring stations of the Helmholtz Centre Munich and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. The AWIPEV base is the annual platform and starting point for more than 20 projects from Germany, France and the Netherlands, and the AWIPEV team supervises up to 24 guests at the same time. More than 100 people visited AWIPEV in 2015 and there were more than 4000 guest days, which makes the AWIPEV the most used station in Ny Ålesund.