Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


The floating university – graduate school uses Polarstern cruise to Antarctic for training


The expedition on the research vessel Polarstern starting on Saturday, 25 October 2014 focuses on training early-stage researchers. On board, 22 PhD and Master's students will learn how to use hydroacoustic measuring methods under real-life conditions.

The participants come from international courses at the University of Bremen and the POLMAR graduate school at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI). Five AWI scientists will train the students during a nine-day voyage to Las Palmas before the Polarstern continues to the Antarctic via Cape Town for research work.

The resarch ressel Polarstern leaves its homeport Bremerhaven (archive).

Photo: Folke Mehrtens / Alfred Wegener Institute

While still in Bremerhaven prior to the expedition, the students learned how to use the software and the hydroacoustic data from earlier expeditions. That means they can start measuring and evaluation work as soon as they set sail.

On the journey from Las Palmas (Canary Islands) to Cape Town, oceanographers will study biogeochemical interactions in the tropical ocean. They will also determine cloud, aerosol and water parameters and measure cosmic radiation.

Off the coast of Namibia, the expedition participants plan to recover a moored oceanographic instrument there that has been recording data, including the sounds made by whales, since November 2012. The aim of this study is to determine whether baleen whales calve here, an assumption that has not yet been conclusively proven.

Apart from this scientific work and training on board the Polarstern, the voyage from Bremerhaven to Cape Town provides the opportunity to calibrate instruments that will be used in the coming Antarctic research season.

At the beginning of December, RV Polarstern will leave Cape Town with new scientists for oceanographic research work. They will recover a large number of instruments moored in the Weddell Sea. This equipment measures temperature, current direction, current speed and other parameters, which will be analysed in international projects to help understand the circulation patterns of global ocean currents.

Also on board are sea ice physicists and biologists. They examine the thickness and composition of the sea ice as well as the quantity of light that can penetrate the ice into the water. This data is particularly interesting for biologists who research life in and under the ice. That is because algae photosynthesis, which forms the basis for the food chain, is only possible where there is light.

Another important function of this second expedition leg is to supply Neumayer Station III with material. The cruise leg will end in Punta Arenas, Chile after two months, at the beginning of February 2015.

Then, the Polarstern will set off from Punta Arenas and head for the Amundsen Sea for geoscientific work. In Pine Island Bay and off the Pine Island glacier, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute and the MARUM Centre in Bremen plan to drill sediment cores with the MeBo seabed drilling system. These will help reconstructing the development and past dynamics of the western Antarctic ice sheet.

This ice sheet reacts very sensitively to climate change because a large part of its base is grounded below present sea level on the Antarctic land mass. The geoscientists are working to quantify glacier melting in warm periods of the geological past. Combined with the reconstruction of the climatic conditions, the data will provide parameters for ice sheet models intended to predict the future behaviour of the western Antarctic ice sheet and its contribution to sea level changes.

Another group of scientists will come on board in Punta Arenas in mid-March 2015, using the return trip northward across the Atlantic for atmospheric research. In addition, biologists will study the reactions of sub-Antarctic shrimps to oxygen depletion. The Polarstern is due back home in its homeport of Bremerhaven in April 2015.

Notes for Editors: Your contact person is Dr Folke Mehrtens, Dept. of Communications and Media Relations (phone +49 471 4831-2007; e-mail: Please find printable images on our website:

Follow the Alfred Wegener Institute on Twitter and Facebook. In this way you will receive all current news as well as information on brief everyday stories about life at the institute.

The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, Antarctic and in the high and mid-latitude oceans. The Institute coordinates German polar research and provides important infrastructure such as the research icebreaker Polarstern and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the national and international scientific world. The Alfred Wegener Institute is one of the 18 research centres of the Helmholtz Association, the largest scientific organisation in Germany.

Ralf Röchert | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Science Education:

nachricht Decision-making research in children: Rules of thumb are learned with time
19.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht Young people discover the "Learning Center"
20.09.2016 | Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering GmbH

All articles from Science Education >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>