Arctic Sea-Ice Retreat Continues

26 September 2022
“Even if this summer didn’t break any records in the Arctic, in the long-term comparison the ice cover is still very low, and we believe the long-term sea-ice retreat will continue. This summer showed once again that the sea-ice cover is determined by both long-term trends and short-term, substantial year-on-year variations caused by the weather and ocean currents,” says Prof Christian Haas, Head of the Sea Ice Physics Section at the AWI, summarising the 2022 melting season. “These variations remain difficult to predict and call for more comprehensive, systematic and continuous observation, as well as improved climate models,” adds his colleague Dr Gunnar Spreen from the University of Bremen. Read more here…

At the End of the Arctic Summer

20 September 2022
While the sun sinks lower and lower over the horizon, air temperatures over the central Arctic Ocean are dipping toward the freezing point. The further sea-ice retreat will chiefly depend on the ocean temperatures and on wind patterns, which can either condense or disperse the sea ice. As the summer draws to a close, the surface of the central Arctic Ocean is once again beginning to freeze over. The remainder of sea-ice loss will be mainly due to melting within the marginal ice zone, caused by heat stored in the ocean. Read more here …

Arctic Ice Thicknesses in Fram Strait and North of Greenland in Summer 2022: First Results of the IceBird Aerial Campaign

7 September 2022
The Arctic summer is drawing to a close, and in the course of September the sea-ice thickness in the Arctic will drop to the lowest level of the year, reaching what is known as the September minimum. Whereas the total area of Arctic sea-ice cover can be relatively easily determined via satellite, measuring sea-ice thickness from space is, at least in summer, difficult and error-prone due to the ice’s melting surface. Accordingly, for the past several years the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research has sought to compensate for the lack of reliable satellite data on summer ice thicknesses by means of direct measurements by the sea-ice monitoring programme, dubbe IceBird. Read more here ...

Map product “Multiyear Ice” now also available for the Antarctic!

15 August 2022
Since 2019, the research group “Remote Sensing of Polar Regions” at the University of Bremen’s Institute of Environmental Physics has focused on developing and implementing an algorithm for classifying ice types. The result: a map product that can detect “Multiyear Ice” in the Arctic and display it in the form of varying concentrations. This also allows patches of sea ice to be matched to age categories, and conclusions to be drawn regarding the dynamic development of the ice. This map product “Multiyear Ice” is now also available for the Antarctic. Read more here …

Lowest June sea-ice extent in the Antarctic since 1979 recorded

18. Juli 2022
The month of June is characterised by major changes in the sea-ice extent in both polar regions. In the Arctic, the influence of the sunlight steadily increases until, on 21 June, the Polar Day begins north of the Arctic Circle and the sun never sets for several weeks on end. In the Antarctic, the Polar Night falls and the sun never rises in many areas south of the Antarctic Circle. In the Arctic, the most intensive melting phase begins, while the belt of pack-ice in the Antarctic constantly grows. Read more here ...

Sea-ice extent drops below long-term seasonal average in both polar regions

23 June 2022
While we in Germany are easing into the summer, in the Arctic the days are also growing longer, intensifying the incoming sunlight, which is what primarily determines the melting of sea ice. In contrast, the pack ice is now steadily growing in the Antarctic. This year, observations of the sea-ice extent development in both hemispheres reveal a trend clearly below the long-term average. The sea-ice extent’s further development in both hemispheres depends on a number of factors and can’t yet be predicted for the remainder of the year. Read more here ...

“Sea-ice biology”: new section offered at meereisportal.de

31 March 2022
The sea ice of the Arctic and Antarctic is a unique habitat for a host of organisms, which can be found on its surface, in the brine channels that permeate it, or on its underside, in the boundary layer between the ice and water. The plants and animals that live here have to be specially adapted to the harsh climate.
The denizens of the Arctic and Antarctic include broad variety of tiny organisms like bacteria or microalgae up to penguins and polar bears. Some live on the ice, others at the edge of sea-ice-covered areas, and some below the ice. In addition, the sea ice offers an important habitat for countless marine bird species. By expanding the available information products on “sea-ice knowledge” at meereisportal.de, we can finally respond to a request that has long-since and repeatedly been expressed to the team: to complement information on the physical world and climatic aspects of sea ice with the important field of sea-ice biology. After all, both fields are vital to addressing questions on climate change in this unique and highly specialised ecosystem. Read more here …

Record Low Antarctic Sea-ice Extent Reached in February 2022

8 March 2022
Satellite readings taken on 21 February 2022 showed, at 2.27 million km2, the absolute record low Antarctic sea-ice extent since the beginning of continuous satellite monitoring in 1979. This was a few thousand km2 below the previous record low from 1997. The mean sea-ice extent for February, at 2.4 million km², was another historical low. This minimum is the result of very low ice cover in all sub-regions of the Antarctic, particularly in the Weddell and Ross Seas. What do these observations tell us about the general climatological trend?  Read more here...

Part 3: Linking scientific results: Arctic atmosphere, ice and ocean results from MOSAiC published

17 February 2022
Part 3: Atmospheric parameters and processes observed during MOSAiC

The MOSAiC ATMO (Atmosphere)-Team made observations of relevant atmospheric properties, processes and interactions over an entire annual cycle while drifting across the Central Arctic with the sea ice from October 2019 to September 2020. A broad and diverse international team of scientists designed and implemented a comprehensive programme for observing and characterising all aspects of the Arctic atmospheric system in unprecedented detail. Ralf Jaiser from the AWI Potsdam comments on the importance of MOSAiC-related research, which extends beyond the Arctic itself: “The Arctic is embedded in the global climate system. A better understanding of Arctic processes improves our ability to make forecasts and projections of the climate system globally.” Read more here…

Part 2: Linking scientific results:

Arctic atmosphere, ice and ocean results from MOSAiC published

What’s happening in the Arctic Ocean under the sea-ice: seasonal changes, regionality, eddies and mixing throughout a full year during MOSAiC

A summary of the work by the physical oceanography team, “Team OCEAN”, has recently been published in the journal Elementa.  Like the entirety of MOSAiC, the OCEAN part was likely the most comprehensive set of physical oceanography measurements ever carried out on and around a drifting ice floe in the ice-covered Arctic Ocean. The observational program of Team OCEAN was aimed at both, measuring the basic state of the ocean, i.e. temperature and salinity, throughout the entire water column once a week, and from the upper water column down to the warm Atlantic water daily. Read more here...

Linking scientific results: Arctic atmosphere, ice and ocean results from MOSAiC published

10 February 2022
Part 1: New perspectives on snow and sea-ice properties and processes

One and a half years ago the unique Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) expedition, together with its year-round drift through the Central Arctic, came to an end. With a wealth of data, enthusiasm and new findings, the scientists returned to their home research institutes to analyse the data and prepare their first summarising conclusions. Three papers on ice, atmosphere and ocean research have now been published and offer insights into a changing world, one that is both fascinating and alarming. Read more here ...

MOSAiC: A booster shot for research into how the Arctic affects our weather

3 February 2022
It was nearly ten years ago when polar researchers first speculated that the dramatic loss of sea ice in the Arctic could have direct effects on the weather in the middle latitudes. Ever since, atmospheric researchers Dr Dörthe Handorf and Dr Annette Rinke at the AWI in Potsdam have been searching for concrete evidence of the interrelations between the sea ice, polar air currents, and our weather in Central Europe. To do so, the physicists not only need to gain a better grasp of the interplay between the ice, ocean and atmosphere; they also have to integrate every new detail into their climate models. Thanks to the wealth of data gathered during MOSAiC, their work is now gaining momentum, as the two experts report in the following interview. Read more here...

Greater than the sum of its parts: airborne multi-instrument sea-ice observations

24 January 2022
Satellite altimeters measure how much the sea-ice surface floats above the water level. This parameter is called freeboard and it is further converted into sea-ice thickness. This calculation requires information about how much snow there is on top of the sea-ice layer and about the density of sea ice. Measuring sea-ice density accurately is therefore difficult and traditionally requires coring or cutting out pieces of ice, which is why observations are sparse. The airborne data presented in our recently published study are now the first step in finding new ways to tackle this issue. Read more here …

Boundary-layer physicists: when perseverance pays off

19 January 2022
Optimising climate models is definitely not the ideal task for people who need to see quick results. It takes perseverance, a love for detail, and a tremendous amount of stamina, as the findings of a joint German-Russian project (POLEX) now show. In the project, experts from the Alfred Wegener Institute and their Russian peers succeeded in substantially improving the AWI’s regional climate model for the Arctic – with the help of simplified equations for simulating heat and momentum transfer in the boundary layer. Read more here...