Bremerhaven August 7th 2008. The German Research Vessel Polarstern had to prove its ice breaking capabilities in Arctic waters to gain data on two series of long-term research measurements. After working in regions up to latitude 82 N, Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association will enter port in Reykjavik (Iceland) on August 10th.
"This year, we had to cope with exceptional heavy ice coverage", says chief scientist Prof. Gerhard Kattner. The sea ice covered the Arctic almost down to latitude 72 in southern direction. Perpetual winds from the Northwest have moved the ice into the central area of the Fram Strait since the beginning of summer. The main focus of the expedition lied in this region: the moorings along 7850' N, and the so-called "AWI-Hausgarten". The measurements of the Polarstern expedition, which is completed by now, are part of continuous studies. Statements about long-term developments of the climate system can be made by means of these series of measurements. These research endeavours are only possible with an icebreaker like Polarstern - moorings in ice covered areas cannot be recovered with another research vessel.
Exchange of moorings in dense ice cover
These long-term measurements on the transport of bodies of water in the Fram Strait are conducted by the Alfred Wegener Institute since 1997. The Fram Strait lies between Spitsbergen and Greenland. It is the most important region for the exchange of Atlantic and Polar water masses. Here, warm and more saline Atlantic water flows north while cold and less saline Arctic water flows south. This marine region is the only deepwater link between the North Atlantic and the central Arctic Ocean and hence a region in which systematic changes are reflected in a particularly sensitive way. To observe and evaluate these changes, 17 moorings were distributed on the floor of the ocean around the area. They measure temp
|Contact: Gerhard Kattner|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres