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Research ship Polarstern returns from Antartica
Date:5/19/2011

Bremerhaven, 19 May 2011. The research vessel Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association will arrive back at its homeport of Bremerhaven after a seven-month expedition on Friday, 20 May. Nearly 200 researchers from institutes in 15 countries took part in the expedition. The oceanographers on board conducted measurements showing that warming of the water in the deep Weddell Sea continues further. The observations of biologists indicated that organisms in the Antarctic adapt very slowly to changes in the environment.

The Weddell Sea in the Atlantic sector of Antarctica is a favourite place for German polar research. Oceanographers, for instance, operate a network of moorings and floats with sensitive sensors that determine temperature, salt concentration and thickness of sea ice. To read out the data and maintain the equipment, the moorings have to be replaced. The floats transmit their data by means of satellites. Expansion of this measurement network was one of the focal points of the cruise leg headed by oceanographer Dr. Eberhard Fahrbach. "An initial evaluation of the measurement data shows that the temperature down to great depths of the Weddell Sea continues to rise," states Fahrbach, who was in Antarctica on the Polarstern from the end of November to the beginning of February.

Data from the moorings as well as measurements conducted directly on the ship were collected within the framework of international observation programmes. In this way they make a major contribution to gaining a better understanding of the significance of the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean for large-scale events of relevance to the climate. Among other things, the researchers analyse the temperature and salt concentration distribution in this context. In the Weddell Sea the worldwide conditions in the deep sea are influenced in such a way that cold, saline water sinks (thermohaline circulation). It ca
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Contact: Folke Mehrtens
medien@awi.de
49-047-148-312-007
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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