Antarctic research within the International Polar Year IPY 2007/08

December 21, 2006

The 27th research campaign of Bremerhaven's Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research marks the beginning of the summer research season in the Antarctic. The institute collaborates with 20 research institutions and ten logistics organisations from 14 countries. Neumayer Station will serve as the logistical base for extensive measurements using aircraft. An expedition aboard research icebreaker Polarstern is travelling along the Antarctic Peninsula as part of the global 'Census of Marine Life', and at the Dallmann Laboratory activities will be focussing on Antarctic habitats as they undergo climate change. The Antarctic summer lasts from November to April. Many projects will be an overture to the International Polar Year 2007/2008.

Science and Logistics: Neumayer Station

The Alfred Wegener Institute's research station Neumayer (70°39´S, 08°15´W) is occupied year round and represents the centre of German Antarctic research. During the current season, a total of 42 scientific and technical staff will be working at the station. Personnel and cargo are being air-freighted and coordinated jointly within DROMLAN (Dronning Maud Land Air Network), an international network of eleven research institutes. In mid December, the new over-wintering crew of the Alfred Wegener Institute arrived at Neumayer Station. This year, the group consists of four women and five men who will be responsible for station maintenance and ongoing long-term collection of meteorological, geophysical and air chemistry data.

Census of Antarctic Marine Life (CAML)

As part of the global research project 'Census of Marine Life' (CoML), an expedition aboard the research icebreaker Polarstern is currently investigating an oceanic region alongside the Antarctic Peninsula which, for the first time, has become accessible to science after a large section of the Larsen B Ice Shelf collapsed in 2002. Within the project, a total of 47 scientists from twelve countries explore biological diversity. The 'Census of Antarctic Marine Life' is the largest marine research programme in the Antarctic and hence represents one of the major IPY projects.

Aerosols and trace gases

On December 15th, the research aircraft Polar 2 landed at Neumayer Station, marking the start of the German-Japanese project ANTSYO II (Japan-German Airborne Observation Program ). Until January of 2007, measurements identifying minute airborne particles, so-called aerosols, and various trace gases, will be carried out from the aircraft. The physical, optical and chemical characteristics of aerosols will be the focus of the measurement campaign throughout the Antarctic summer season. In addition, the major pathways of aerosols to the Antarctic will be identified.

Antarctic underwater sounds

For one year now, the working group 'Oceanic Acoustics' of the Alfred Wegener Institute has been maintaining PALAOA, the 'PerenniAL Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic', located near Neumayer Station. PALAOA (70°31´S, 8°13´W), consists of four underwater microphones, so-called hydrophones, which are recording all sounds of the Antarctic Ocean 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Scientists are hoping to gain new insights into communication of marine mammals such as seals and whales. The data will also provide information about the effect of anthropogenic sounds on the behaviour of the animals. A live audio stream of PALAOA can be found on the internet at www.awi.de/acoustics.

Diverse life in the cold

At the Dallmann Laboratory (62°14´S, 58°40´W), only operated during the Antarctic summer, biological research is paramount. In particular, the diversity of various organisms and their adaptations to climate change and extreme environmental conditions are the centre of the researcher's attention. One example is the investigation of algal growth under high light intensities with simultaneous low temperatures by scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, in collaboration with the Institute for Polar Ecology in Kiel. The effect of ice movement on species communities of the sea floor is an additional research focus at Dallmann Laboratory. The IPY project CliCOPEN (Impact of Climate induced glacial melting on marine and terrestric COastal communities on a gradient along the Western Antarctic PENinsula) addresses the impact of climate induced glacial melting on coastal species communities of the western Antarctic Peninsula.

Detailed information about all German research projects associated with the 3rd International Polar Year 2007/2008 can be found on the internet at www.polarjahr.de.
-end-


Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

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