On coming Wednesday, 15 June, the research vessel Polarstern of the German Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association will set off on its 26th arctic expedition. Over 130 scientists from research institutions in six countries will take part in three legs of the voyage. First of all, at long-term stations oceanographers and biologists will investigate how oceanic currents as well as the animal and plant world are changing between Spitsbergen and Greenland. Beginning in August, physical, biological and chemical changes in the central Arctic will be recorded. RV Polarstern is expected back in Bremerhaven on 7 October.
In the Fram Strait between Spitsbergen and Greenland oceanographic measuring devices have been continuously recording temperature, salt concentration, flow speed and direction for 14 years. Moorings with the sensors that have to be replaced after one or two years extend down to a depth of over 2,500 metres. To supplement these stationary measurements, a free-floating device will now be additionally employed for three months. The so-called Seaglider submerges down to a depth of 1,000 metres along its course line in order to carry out measurements. In between it regularly returns to the surface, transmits the data via satellite and receives new position coordinates. The recorded data show how the exchange of water masses and heat changes between the Arctic Ocean and the North Atlantic. The Fram Strait is the only deepwater connection between the two marine areas and therefore permits conclusions regarding the influence of the polar marine regions on the global ocean.
The second area under study is the so-called AWI HAUSGARTEN. It is the northernmost of ten observatories altogether in the European network ESONET (European Seafloor Observatory Network). Using this deep-sea long-term observatory of the Alfred Wegener Institute, biologists want to examine how communities of organisms in the open
|Contact: Ralf Roechert|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres