Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

RV Polarstern returns with new findings from the Central Arctic during the 2012 ice minimum

10.10.2012
Polarstern is expected back from the Central Arctic expedition “IceArc“ in Bremerhaven on 8 October 2012 after a good two months.
54 scientists and technicians from twelve different countries conducted research on the retreat of the sea ice and the consequences for the Arctic Ocean and its ecosystems over a period of two months in the High North.

A number of new technologies were used for to film and photograph life in and below the ice down to a depth of 4400 metres. Since its departure from Tromsø (Norway) on 2 August 2012 Polarstern has travelled some 12,000 kilometres and conducted research at 306 stations. These included nine ice stations where the ship moored to an ice floe for several days to examine the ice, the water beneath it and the bottom of the sea.

Many measurements were concerned with responses to the rapid retreat of the sea ice this summer. The researchers determined that the thick multiyear sea ice in the area of investigation had declined further. With the so-called EM-Bird (electromagnetic sensor to record the thickness of sea ice) an area of 3,500 kilometres of sea ice was measured from a helicopter. As early as July 2012 the Siberian shelves including the Laptev Sea were free from ice, whereas in the summer of 2011 Polarstern had still encountered multiyear ice in this region. This means that the volume of ice is greatly reduced by melting. The fresh water content of the sea surface has increased accordingly as a result of the melting ice. “The Arctic of the future will consist of thinner sea ice which will therefore survive the summer less frequently, will drift more quickly and permit more light to penetrate the ocean.

This will lead to great changes in the composition of sea life“, says head of the expedition Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius, who manages the Helmholtz-Max-Planck Research Group for Deep-sea Ecology and Technology at the Alfred Wegener Institute.

With a new type of under-ice trawl, the researchers headed by Dr. Hauke Flores from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association were able for the first time to conduct large-scale investigations of the communities living directly on the lower side of the Arctic pack ice. “We had a polar cod in our net almost every time. This species is particularly adapted to life below the ice; it does not occur without ice“, explained Flores on the significance of the sea ice as a habitat. The sea ice physicists from the Alfred Wegener Institute also used an under-ice robot to record the light incidence and distribution of algae on the lower side of the ice. They were able to detect the diatom Melosira artica in high concentrations also under the first-year ice in the central basin of the Arctic. These single cell algae can produce metre-long chains and form dense accumulations beneath the ice. Photos from the deep sea have shown that the algae largely dropped to the bottom of the sea as a result of the melting ice.

According to the findings of the returning Polar researchers, the rapid changes in the Arctic were not therefore restricted to the sea surface. Atlantic water flowing into the Arctic at a depth of several hundreds had an elevated temperature and salinity which could be measured down to a depth of several thousands of metres in the Arctic Basins. Images and measurements of the bottom of the sea showed for the first time that the deep sea of the Central Arctic is not a desert, but that frequently accumulations of sea cucumbers, sponges, feather stars and sea anemones gather to feed on the sea algae.
The warm temperatures, the retreat of the ice and the greater light availability beneath the ice causes the seasonality of the Central Arctic to shift. The production and the export of algae is taking place earlier compared with previous years, as the results of annually anchored sediment traps show. As a result of the extremely thin ice cover, Polarstern was able to navigate far into the North later in the year than usual. The sea ice physicists were therefore able to collect important data at the start of the freezing period. The measurements on the new thin ice are important, because this sea ice will occur more frequently in the future.

Interesting reports (in German), great photos and videos of the IceArc Polarstern expedition can be found in this blog at GEO http://www.geo.de/blog/geo/polarstern-expedition; please see English blog on our homepage: http://www.awi.de/index.php?id=6322

Notes for Editors: We will also be delighted to provide you with current video material on the expedition for reporting in HD quality. Edit decision list and access data on our ftp server can be obtained on request from Lars Grübner (phone: +49 (0)471 4831-1742; email: medien@awi.de). Printable images are available at http://www.awi.de/index.php?id=6374&L=1.

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 stations in the Arctic and Antarctic to the 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
Further information:
http://www.awi.de

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Seismic study reveals huge amount of water dragged into Earth's interior
18.12.2018 | National Science Foundation

nachricht A damming trend
17.12.2018 | Michigan State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pressure tuned magnetism paves the way for novel electronic devices

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>