Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


How is the Arctic Ocean changing? – RV Polarstern launches expedition to Arctic Ocean

On coming Wednesday, 15 June, the research vessel Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association will set off on its 26th arctic expedition. Over 130 scientists from research institutions in six countries will take part in three legs of the voyage.

First of all, at long-term stations oceanographers and biologists will investigate how oceanic currents as well as the animal and plant world are changing between Spitsbergen and Greenland. Beginning in August, physical, biological and chemical changes in the central Arctic will be recorded. RV Polarstern is expected back in Bremerhaven on 7 October.

In the Fram Strait between Spitsbergen and Greenland oceanographic measuring devices have been continuously recording temperature, salt concentration, flow speed and direction for 14 years. Moorings with the sensors that have to be replaced after one or two years extend down to a depth of over 2,500 metres. To supplement these stationary measurements, a free-floating device will now be additionally employed for three months. The so-called Seaglider submerges down to a depth of 1,000 metres along its course line in order to carry out measurements. In between it regularly returns to the surface, transmits the data via satellite and receives new position coordinates. The recorded data show how the exchange of water masses and heat changes between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic. The Fram Strait is the only deepwater connection between the two marine areas and therefore permits conclusions regarding the influence of the polar marine regions on the global ocean.

The second area under study is the so-called AWI HAUSGARTEN. It is the northernmost of ten observatories altogether in the European network ESONET (European Seafloor Observatory Network). Using this deep-sea long-term observatory of the Alfred Wegener Institute, biologists want to examine how communities of organisms in the open water and on the bottom of the deep sea react to the progressive warming of the nordic seas. In this context they will investigate the critical physiological and ecological limits of selected species. This makes it possible to draw conclusions as to whether organisms are able to tolerate increasing temperatures, for example, or whether they withdraw from the region as warming progresses. With the help of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) chartered from the IFM-GEOMAR marine research institute in Kiel experiments will also be conducted on the floor of the deep sea. Another underwater vehicle, which has a length of around five metres, is also unmanned, but operates autonomously, will be used at water depths down to approx. 600 metres as well as just under the Arctic sea ice. By means of measuring instruments that were newly developed at the Alfred Wegener Institute, it records, among other things, the distribution of unicellular algae and the carbon dioxide concentration near the water surface. Furthermore, the scientists plan to take seafloor samples from a marine area in which fishery echosounders recently detected numerous gas flares. They indicate that probably enormous quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas with certain relevance for the climate, are released from the seafloor at water depths of around 400 metres west of Svalbard.

As of the beginning of August, the research vessel Polarstern will then set course for the Arctic Ocean. The focus will be on physical, biological and chemical changes in the central Arctic. The reduction of sea ice and the variability of ocean circulation and its heat and fresh water budgets are tightly linked with changes in the gas exchange as well as with biogeochemical and ecosystem processes in the sea ice and in the entire water column. To understand these interrelations better, the members of the expedition will take water and ice samples from the shallow Eurasian shelf seas all the way to the deep Canadian Basin and from the open sea to the pack ice. In addition, the researchers will install measuring devices that drift through the Arctic Ocean on ice floes for months and thus supply valuable data from this not easily accessible region. They then transmit these data to land via satellite. A subsequent comparison of the data to measurements from previous expeditions may indicate how the climate is changing in the Arctic. To continuously monitor the further progress of the changes, the researchers will moor measuring devices and sample-taking equipment, which will be picked up during another expedition to this marine region in the coming year.

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and oceans of the high and middle latitudes. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides major infrastructure to the international scientific community, such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and stations in the Arctic and Antarctica. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the seventeen research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Margarete Pauls |
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
26.10.2016 | University of California - Irvine

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>