It is only six centimetres long, but it plays a major role in the Antarctic ecosystem: the small crustacean Euphausia superba (Antarctic krill). It's one of the world's most abundant species and the central diet of a number of animals in the Southern Ocean. For a long time, scientists have been puzzled why the size of krill stocks fluctuates so widely. In a new study headed by Prof. Bernd Blasius and Prof. Bettina Meyer, a group of scientists from the University of Oldenburg's Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM) and the Bremerhaven-based Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have shown that the competition for food within the population is responsible for the variability.
The Arctic Ocean was once a gigantic freshwater lake. Only after the land bridge between Greenland and Scotland had submerged far enough did vast quantities of salt water pour in from the Atlantic. With the help of a climate model, researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute have demonstrated how this process took place, allowing us for the first time to understand more accurately how Atlantic circulation as we know it today came about. The results of the study have now been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Electronic tags with ‘whale cams’ deployed on humpback whales in Antarctica have revealed the secret feeding habits of the ocean giants. The small camera tags were placed on the backs of humpback whales by Australian and United States scientists working off the Antarctic Peninsula, in the Gerlache Strait.
Despite the warming of the Arctic Ocean, vast areas are still covered with ice and hides an unknown world from scientific research. With the ice retreating, this world can be investigated and previously inaccessible parts of the Arctic open up and maybe reveal new life forms. A French expedition named “Under The Pole III” will try to fill this gap on a three-year expedition around the globe.
On May 24th 2017, 49 atmospheric and cloud researchers, sea-ice physicists, marine biologists and biogeochemists embarked on a joint expedition headed for Svalbard. On board the research vessel Polarstern from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) all of these disciplines are focused on just one question: How is the climate changing the Arctic? At the same time, the AWI research aircraft Polar 5 and Polar 6, launching from Longyearbyen (Svalbard), will engage in atmospheric measurement flights.
In the white turmoil of an Antarctic snow storm, finding shelter fast can be the difference between life and death. In 1957, the intense orange and yellow of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Hut at New Zealand’s Scott Base in Antarctica was a beacon to those caught out by the weather. Now the original colour scheme has been restored.
A phenomenon described as 'Dragon-skin' ice was observed on a research voyage in the Ross Sea in Antarctica. This rarely seen ice is produced as a result of hurricane strength winds, which remove ice from open water areas, allowing more and more new ice to be formed. Researchers are planning to study the phenomenon and the currents it causes below water in more detail
Narwhals are amongst the most mysterious marine mammals known. Although the species has been known for centuries and has been exploited by humans, only little is known about their ecology. Especially the tusk has spurred human fantasy. Now, Canadian fisheries researchers were able to show by video footage for the very first time that narwhal bulls use their tusks for fishing.
Five Arctic tourism organizations have joined forces to develop guidelines for tourists visiting Arctic communities. In addition to general advice on how to behave, the organizations presented a tool that allows communities create their own tailored guidelines.
Australian parliament had decided to invest more resources towards their Antarctic program. To this end, the construction of a new icebreaker was decided earlier this year. To engage the population and increase popularity of its Antarctic program, the government also decided to start a school competition for naming Australia’s new Antarctic flagship.