Weekly Reports Polarstern

The Expedition PS117 Cape Town - Punta Arenas

Polarstern expedition PS117 seeks to provide contributions to scientific projects encompassing physical oceanography, marine biology and meteorology, with the general aim to better our understanding of the evolution of the Weddell Sea water masses and the ecological and chemical cycles of the Weddell Sea.  In addition to the immediate scientific program, this expedition also serves to resupply the German Neumayer Station, Antarctica to support the multifaceted scientific activities originating from there.  Specific scientific projects conducted throughout the expedition from aboard are:

HAFOS (Hybrid Antarctic Float Observing System), investigates the circulation and evolution of Warm Deep Water and Weddell Sea Bottom Water by means of oceanographic deep-sea moorings, hydrographic sections and autonomous floats, the latter of which also extend the international Argo Project to the polar seas.  Biological aspects of HAFOS concern the acoustic ecology of the Weddell Sea and its fauna, for which moorings are equipped with autonomous recorders.

FePhyrus will investigate the sources and sinks of trace metals and isotopes in the Weddell Sea and Lazarev Sea and the interaction between iron and the microbial foodweb.

SOCCOM (Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modelling) is observing and modelling the biogeochemical cycles of the Southern Ocean as a means of improving climate modelling; observations are made using biogeochemical profiling floats (BGC-Argo) that are being distributed throughout the Southern Ocean. UK PICCOLO (Processes Influencing Carbon Cycling: Observations of the Lower Limb of the Antarctic Overturning) scientists study the key processes controlling the rate of Southern Ocean carbon uptake, via the release of Argo floats and carbonate chemistry data collection on the Greenwich Meridian section in the Weddell Sea.

The project Microplastics will explore the occurrence and distribution of microplastics in water and biota in the Southern Ocean.

SIPES 2 (Sea Ice Production and Ecology Study) investigates the ecological importance of sea ice for the pelagic food web and carbon supply to top predators (birds and mammals).

ALGENOM-2 investigates the molecular evolutionary and ecological dynamics of unicellular eukaryotic assemblages and of selected taxa thereof.

CombiBac aims for a better understanding of bacterial remineralization processes in the Weddell Sea with emphasis on their  dependence on water temperature and substrate concentration. For this purpose, parameters of bacterial activity, the composition of bacterioplankton communities and concentrations of organic matter will be determined in field samples and during on-board experiments.

The project “Molecular ecology, physiology and life history tools to monitor the population of Dissostichus mawsoni over time and in relation to protection measures in the Weddell Sea” aims at catching alive Antarctic toothfish and other endemic Notothenioids by means of baited traps to investigate their physiology, genetics, population structure and dynamics.

The project "Piloting vertical longlines in support of the conservation and sustainable management of Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni) in the Weddell Sea under CCAMLR" explores a novel, targeted approach to catch a limited amount (max. 5 tonnes) of toothfish for biological, genomic and ecophysiological research.

AWImet-PS will, as contribution to the „Year of Polar Prediction“ (YOPP) increase the rate of radiosoundings on board Polarstern  from 1 or 2 to 4 launches per day.

To realize these projects, the research vessel Polarstern will depart from Cape Town, South Africa, on 15 December 2018 for the expedition PS117, taking us across the Southern Ocean to Antarctica and back, to end on 7 February in Punta Arenas, Chile.  Cape Town will be left in the evening on a southwesterly course, heading for the Greenwich Meridian, which we will reach several days later at about 51°S.  Sailing straight south until reaching the Antarctic continent, we will then veer west for the Atka Seaport, to refurbish the German Antarctic Station Neumayer III shortly after New Year.  Thereafter we will zigzag across the Weddell Sea from Kaap Norvegia to the northern tip of Antarctic Peninsula, to finally cross Drake Passage and enter Magellan Strait to call port in Punta Arenas, Chile, the final destination of this expedition, on 7 February 2019.

PS116 - Weekly Report No. 3 | 26 November - 7 December 2018

Satellite orbits and laser beams

[07. December 2018] 

On our way further south, we sailed on various courses and with different speeds.


PS116 - Weekly Report No. 2 | 19 - 25 November 2018

Polarstern in 3D

[28. November 2018] 

The arrival of Polarstern in the port of Las Palmas took a little longer, because the dedicated berth was occupied by another vessel. She drifted some miles away from the breakwater to wait for the pilot to come on board and the required permission to go alongside.


PS116 - Weekly Report No. 1 | 11 - 18 November 2018

Begin of the Antartic Season

[22. November 2018] 

RV Polarstern left Bremerhaven on 11th November with the high tide around noon. Due to extensive necessary amendments in the shipyard, the departure had been postponed by one day in comparison to the original time planning. This gave all participants the opportunity of a first quiet day on board to get familiar with the ship.


PS115/2 - Wochenbericht Nr. 6 | 08. - 14.10.2018

About packing, cleaning, writing – and a thank you very much at the end

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[15. October 2018] 

Our reseach program has already been finished on Thursday last week at 10:00, and we have started our journey back to Bremehaven. In this final week of the expedition, other activities than research are dominating our daily life. These are mainly packing boxes, instruments etc., cleaning labs, writing reports etc.


PS115/2 - Weekly Report No. 5 | 01 - 07 October 2018

About old stones, Arctic weather, farewell to the Arctic and Heinz Rühmann

[09. October 2018] 

Monday (01 Oct 18).The final research week starts. For today as well as tomorrow a full coring program for the geologists has been scheduled. At two potential locations selected for drilling within the IODP program multicorer, giant box corer, gravity corer and kastenlot corer are used successfully to sample the near-surface sediments.


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