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Successful series of measurements in Arctic sea ice
Date:8/11/2008

, since 1999, the worldwide unique ecologically orientated deep sea long-term observatory in the Polar latitudes. It examines how the deep sea changes under the influence of constant climate change. The AWI-Hausgarten covers an area of about 8.000 square kilometres near the Western coast of Spitsbergen. In this area, water depths between 1.000 and 5.500 metres are investigated to understand the function and structure of life at the bottom of the Arctic deep sea.

This monitoring of the environment includes examinations concerning the changes of the physical environment and the entry of nutrients into the seafloor. "For these purposes, we had to relocate the equipment anchored at the seafloor last year further to the North to follow the receding ice, and to ascertain that they stood at least temporarily in the sphere of influence of the ice edge," reports Ingo Schewe, biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute. The results of the last years already showed that the changes of the ice cover have caused a decrease of some groups of animals living at the bottom of the deep sea. The ice edge is a biologically very active zone, in which algae increasingly grow, die , sink to the ground and serve as nutrients. If the ice edge shifts, it leads to changes in the availability of nutrients in the AWI-Hausgarten. What this year's thick ice cover brings about and whether the small and bigger animals of the deep sea are affected will be shown by the upcoming analyses in Bremerhaven as well as expeditions during the next years.

Polarstern will leave Reykjavik with the destination East Siberian Sea on August 12th. If the ice conditions allow, Polarstern will drive via the Northwest Passage into the work area. There, geoscientific measurements lie at the centre of attention of the expedition members. They want to collect seismic data to better understand the tectonic development of the interface between the Mendeleev Ridge and the East Siberian shelf. At the same time
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Contact: Gerhard Kattner
Gerhard.Kattner@awi.de
49-471-483-1490
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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