Weekly Reports Polarstern

The Expedition PS121 Bremerhaven - Tromsö

Expedition PS121 – FRAM 2019


Expedition PS121 starts on August 10, 2019 in Bremerhaven with the destination Fram Strait

Large parts of the planned work and projects of this expedition are dedicated to the continuation of the HAUSGARTEN long-term observatory established 20 years ago by the AWI in Fram Strait and the implementation of the Helmholtz Infrastructure Initiative FRAM (Frontiers in Arctic Marine Monitoring).

An interdisciplinary group of scientists from five different national and international research institutions will carry out investigations and experiments that cover almost all compartments of the marine ecosystem, from the atmosphere to the water column, and to the seabed in several

thousand meters. The overarching aim of their research activities is to improve our understanding of marine biodiversity and climate-relevant processes of the Arctic Ocean under the impact of climate change.

We will use various optical observation systems and targeted samplers for investigations in the water column and the seabed, and exchange long-term moorings, which are equipped with sensor systems and samplers for year-round biological, physical and chemical studies in the water column. The autonomous underwater vehicle Paul will dive for the first time to a depth of more than 2000 meters to the seabed to obtain new high-resolution information on the condition of the seabed in the study area.

In addition, studies on biodiversity, biomass and distribution of various plankton groups and the associated biogeochemical parameters will be carried out. Here, classical microscopy and biogeochemical analysis are used in parallel to state-of-the-art optical and molecular genetic high-throughput methods. Complementary to the investigations in the water column we will carry out studies of biodiversity, biomass and distribution of deep-sea organisms of different size classes, as well as high-resolution measurements of oxygen consumption and experiments on effects of ocean acidification on deep-sea organisms.


Directly after departure in Bremerhaven, samples will be continuously taken from the lower atmosphere to determine the concentrations of ammonia and ammonium in the atmosphere.


The expedition will end on September 13 with the arrival in Tromsø.

PS121 - Weekly report No. 4 | 01.09. – 08.09.2019

Last activities

[09. September 2019] 

This is the last weekly report for PS121, which describes our activities on board during a full week of research. The research activities have continued to go well, and there is already a feeling on board that the expedition is nearing the end.

PS121 - Weekly report No. 3 | 25.08. – 31.08.2019

Long-term observations

[04. September 2019] 

In the last weekly report, we reported that a long-term observatory such as the HAUSGARTEN is defined by the implementation of regular, standardized investigations at set stations. Because of this, the course of an expedition such as PS121, for which the work is mostly dedicated to furthering the long-term observatory HAUSGARTEN, can be sketched out pretty well before the expedition.

PS121 - Weekly Report No. 2 | 18.08. – 25.08.2019

Working in Hausgarten

[04. September 2019] 

A large part of the work and projects that we scientists planned for this expedition are closely related to furthering the long-term observatory HAUSGARTEN, established by the AWI’s Deep-Sea Group 20 years ago, and to supporting the Helmholtz Infrastructure Initiative FRAM (Frontiers in Arctic Marine Monitoring). The long-term observatory Hausgarten is a network of twenty stations in the Fram Strait, whose coordinates are re-visited by us every year in the summer months.

PS121 - Weekly report No. 1 | 10. - 18.08.2019

Stormy start

[02. September 2019] 

About a week ago, in the evening hours of August 10 in Bremerhaven, it was “lines off” for Polarstern, as she set course through the initially calm sea towards the long-term observatory area Hausgarten. Every single spot on the ship is full with us, 53 scientists, engineers, technicians, and students from various national and international research institutions.

PS120 - Weekly Report No. 4 | 23 - 27 June 2019

The Scent of the Ocean

[01. July 2019] 

Over the past few days, one could smell a scent of ocean, again. It is also interesting that as one get closer to the European shelf on board a ship, one notices that the water is no longer has the hue of the deep ocean blue or the shimmering turquoise of tropical waters. The waters are less clear and they have the same gleam as dark green glass.