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Antarctic expedition provides new insights into the role of the Southern Ocean for global climate
Date:2/5/2008

In the Southern Ocean, large quantities of surface-drifting plankton algae are able to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide content of the surface waters, which can affect the global carbon dioxide cycle. This is one of the results from an Antarctic expedition which has just drawn to a close in Cape Town on February 4, and which was led by the Alfred Wegener Institute, part of the Helmholtz Association. On February 5, an international team of scientists will discuss the results obtained to date and pressing questions of Antarctic research as part of a workshop aboard the icebreaker Polarstern. Federal research minister Dr Annette Schavan will use the opportunity to meet representatives of leading research institutions and South African ministerial colleagues. On February 6, Polarstern will promptly leave again for her next Antarctic expedition which is motivated by the International Polar Year 2007/08 and whose goal it is to understand the role of the Southern Ocean for past, present and future climate.

The Southern Ocean a key region for global climate events

During expeditions of the research vessel Polarstern, and within the framework of the International Polar Year 2007/08, researchers from all over the world are making pioneer contributions to the understanding of the Southern Ocean. This massive water body surrounding the Antarctic continues to be largely unexplored. However, since it has a significant effect on the climate of the entire earth, it is absolutely necessary to intensify research activities. The International Polar Year provides a unique opportunity for combining the scientific efforts of various countries in order to gain major insights.

First results from the expedition

The recently concluded Polarstern expedition had started in Cape Town on November 28, 2007 and was devoted primarily to organisms and materials cycles in the ocean. Under the leadership of Prof Dr Ulrich Bathmann of the A
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Contact: Susanne Diederich
Susanne.Diederich@awi.de
49-471-483-11376
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Source:Eurekalert  

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