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The dawn of a new era in polar research

25.02.2009
Germany has a new research station in the permanent ice of the Antarctic - the Neumayer Station III. Over the next twenty-five to thirty years, the station will be used primarily to gather data on weather and climate around the South Pole.

The new Antarctic station is the German contribution to international research into the climate and the Antarctic. If offers scientists working in the polar region the most modern technology available. "Neumayer III is a masterpiece of engineering and a laboratory that offers hitherto unprecedented opportunities," declared Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan in Berlin. She officially opened the polar station via a live link.

"Today the images we see must speak for themselves," she stated, in view of the impressive motifs crossing the screen. Even the many superlatives that could have been used on this day would have failed to do justice to the true achievement. The new research station is a masterpiece of engineering and a high point in German polar research, she said. "This day marks the dawn of a new era for scientists working in the polar ice."

Neumayer III is, as the name indicates, the third station in the Neumayer series. The stations are used primarily for long-term weather and climate observation. These observations then support research projects, such as IPCC analyses, by supplying data about the Antarctic region. Using the latest technology, scientists can conduct meteorological observations, measure environmental radiation, record changes in the Earth's magnetic field and in the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. The station can accommodate up to 40 scientists at any time.

Movements in the ice
With a planned service life of between twenty-five and thirty years, the new station is expected to operate for significantly longer than its predecessors, thanks primarily to a radically new construction. While the Neumayer Stations I and II were built using a "tube" design, the new station stands on stilts. Little by little the old stations sank deeper and deeper into the snow and were deformed by self ice movement. Neumayer II has already sunk twelve metres into the ice.

Neumayer III, by contrast, can pull itself out of the ice, explained Professor Jürgen Mlynek, President of the Helmholtz Association. The station stands on hydraulic stilts, which allow the station to move upwards with the ice. The stilts are freed one after another from the ice, the holes refilled, and the stilts lowered again.

The articulated stilts also make it possible to offset any movements of the foundations in the ice. Distortions are caused by the different rates of growth in the various layers. The station is, after all, built on the ice and not on land.

A focus on climate research
Professor Peter Lemke, Head of the Climate Sciences Research Division at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), believes that the latest findings in the field of climate research will make the station increasingly important.

"Neumayer III is the key precondition to allowing us to guarantee the infrastructure needed by top research scientists in Germany," concurred Annette Schavan.

The 40 million euros that the new station has cost are a good investment then, in line with the government's High-Tech Strategy for Germany. The federal government has put up 90 percent of this sum, with the remaining 10 percent shared between the states of Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein and Brandenburg.

Contact
German Press and Information Office
http://eng.bundesregierung.de/Dorotheenstr. 84
D-10117 Berlin
Tel.: 03018 272 - 0
Fax: 03018 272 - 2555
E-Mail: InternetPost@bundesregierung.de

| German Press Office
Further information:
http://www.kooperation-international.de
http://eng.bundesregierung.de/

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