Sea-ice Minimum in Sight

11 September 2019
In the coming days, we expect the Arctic sea ice to reach its minimum extent for this year. Based on previous years, the summer sea-ice minimum is reached in mid-September, but sometimes not until the second half of the month, depending very much on the prevailing wind conditions. For the MOSAiC expedition, which starts on 20 September, the conditions are generally favourable. Read more here…

Exclusive Sea Ice Information Before and During the MOSAiC Expedition at meereisportal.de

3 September 2019
The sea ice situation is an important parameter determining the drift and the implementation of the experiment. Exclusive data and information from the MOSAiC sea ice physics research will be available at meereisportal.de, which will provide information on the sea ice situation and the MOSAiC station’s drift. Read more here…

Federal Government releases new Arctic policy guidelines

30 August 2019
On 21 August the Federal Government approved the new ‘Arctic Policy Guidelines’, in which it declared its intention to pursue a consistent course of protecting the climate, environment and nature in this especially fragile region (see Figure 1). Accordingly, shipping in the Arctic, which leaves behind soot deposits on the ice and accelerates the loss of sea ice, is to be made more sustainable, and natural resources are only to be extracted in accordance with stringent environmental standards. Read more here…

Arctic sea-ice extent headed for the annual minimum – a retrospective on the summer

22 August 2019
We can say that the summer of 2019 has been characterised by unusual weather conditions in the Arctic, and that climate change is clearly progressing in the region. As Dr Lars Kaleschke, a sea-ice physicist at the AWI, explains: “Just how much sea ice is left after this remarkable melting season is something we won’t be able to precisely determine until autumn, with the help of satellite-based ice-thickness measurements. How far to the north the sea-ice margin has shifted will be an extremely important aspect for the launch of the MOSAiC drift experiment.” Read more here...

The Voyage of 2016P28 - A measuring buoy circumnavigates the Antarctic in the course of more than three years

3 August 2019
Following in the footsteps of the explorer James Cook, over the past three-and-a-half years an automatic measuring station has circumnavigated the Antarctic. The record-breaking journey began when Stefanie Arndt and Leonard Rossmann from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven placed the buoy on the frozen surface of the Weddell Sea in the Antarctic. Since then 2016P28 has been in regular satellite contact, transmitting data that provides a wealth of information regarding the complex links between the ice, ocean currents, the weather and climate. Read more here...

New product: “Multiyear Ice in the Arctic” now online!

11 July 2019
The Arctic is home to several types of sea ice, which differ in their physical characteristics (e.g. ice thickness, salt content, malleability). Accordingly, being familiar with the different types of sea ice is important for a range of activities. Dr Christian Melsheimer, a physicist at the University of Bremen’s Institute of Environmental Physics, was involved in the development and implementation of an algorithm for determining ice types: “Since the 1980s the amount of multiyear ice in the Arctic has virtually been cut in half, and the majority of the loss took place in the past twelve years. It goes without saying that we need to keep a close eye on parameters that change rapidly, and to observe them at regular intervals.” Read more here...

The next milestone in Russian-German Arctic research

20 May 2019
With the return of the Russian research icebreaker “Akademik Treshnikov” to the port of Murmansk, Russia, another successful chapter in Russian-German collaborative Arctic research drew to a close. Read more here...

Sea-ice extent in the Arctic at a historic low for the season

4 May 2019
“Since the end of March, we’ve been seeing new negative record values on a daily basis,” says Dr Lars Kaleschke, a sea-ice physicist at the Alfred Wegener Institute, assessing the current situation in the Arctic. “The further progression of the sea-ice retreat and the ice conditions next summer will also be very exciting for us in connection with the launch of the MOSAiC expedition, which will take our research icebreaker Polarstern to the Central Arctic for an entire year, starting in mid-September.” Read more here...

Sea ice thickness retrieval using microwave satellite observations from SMAP and SMOS

12 April 2019
The amount of thicker multiyear ice has been strongly decreasing during the last decades, but the winter sea ice maximum only little. Thus, today the area of thinner first-year ice makes up a considerably larger part of the sea ice covered region. Daily observations of the ice cover and its thickness are important to track these rapid changes and improve our understanding of the Arctic climate system. Read more here...

The Transpolar Drift is faltering – and sea ice is now melting before it can leave the nursery

2 April 2019
New AWI sea-ice study reveals the extreme scale of sea-ice melting in the Arctic. The dramatic loss of ice in the Arctic is influencing sea-ice transport across the Arctic Ocean. As experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research report in a new study, today only 20 percent of the sea ice that forms in the shallow Russian marginal seas of the Arctic Ocean actually reaches the Central Arctic, where it joins the Transpolar Drift; the remaining 80 percent of the young ice melts before it has a chance to leave its ‘nursery’. Before 2000, that number was only 50 percent. Find out more...

Arctic sea-ice situation in February 2019

12 March 2019
The Bering Sea showed the most dramatic development this month. Normally the amount of sea ice in the Bering Sea continues to grow until late April / early May; the ice is unstable and reacts to the effects of wind and waves. According to Dr Monica Ionita-Scholz, a climatologist at the AWI: “It’s an impressive and very rare situation that we’re currently witnessing in the Bering Sea. Although “atmospheric rivers” do reach the Bering Strait in some cases, it is extremely rare, possibly even unprecedented, to see three consecutive episodes of warm intrusions over this region in less than 10 days.” Find out more...

The team behind meereisportal.de

26 February 2019
Since being launched in 2013, the information and data portal meereisportal.de has provided, for the first time, a central German-language source of scientific findings on the topic of sea ice for all levels of society and in various levels of detail. meereisportal.de is a knowledge transfer project jointly created by the research network REKLIM, the AWI and its Climate Office, and the University of Bremen (IUP). But who’s actually at work behind the scenes at meereisportal.de? Read on to find out…

Snow depth on Arctic sea ice

12 February 2019
Snow on Arctic sea ice plays an important role in the Arctic climate system. It reflects the majority of the incoming solar radiation and isolates the sea ice from warm air in summer and therefore slows down its melting. In addition, information about snow depth is needed for sea ice thickness retrievals based on satellite altimetry. Read more here...

Sea-ice extent in the Southern Ocean now approaching its summer minimum – what lessons we can learn from the latest RV Polarstern expeditions to the Weddell Sea

30. January 2019
If we review the sea-ice extent in the Antarctic over the past few weeks, we can see an exciting trend – and not just in our potential interpretations, but also when we compare the current situation to sea-ice conditions in previous years. Chief Scientist Dr Olaf Boebel from RV Polarstern expedition reports: “This year we’ve actually had difficulties finding suitable ice floes where we could conduct the planned marine biology experiments. But in terms of our plotted course and staying on the Polarstern’s schedule, the conditions are of course excellent.”
Read more here...

The AWI’s Antarctic fast-ice research programme at the overwintering station Neumayer III in Atka Bay

11. January 2019
In order to arrive at a better understanding of the processes at work, as well as the seasonal and interannual changes in the fast ice of Atka Bay, sea-ice measurements have been taken there on a regular basis since 2010. The fast ice in Atka Bay is predominantly seasonal.
The routine measurements in Atka Bay are taken by the overwintering team at the Neumayer Station from early spring to the thawing of the bay in January / February. Essentially, they gather measurements of snow, fast-ice and platelet-ice thickness along a uniform 24-km transect that covers the entire bay from west to east. Read more here ...