Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research

Data Center Description

General Information about the Institute
The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is one of the 16 national research centres in Germany. The Institute was established as a public foundation in 1980 and was named after the geophysicist and polar researcher, Alfred Wegener, who died in the Greenland ice in 1930. It is financed by the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology (80%), the State of Bremen (10% of the Bremerhaven branch) and the State of Brandenburg (10% of the Potsdam branch). In 1992 the Institute budget amounted to approx. 100 Mio DM and a staff of 420.

The mandate of the AWI includes fundamental scientific research in the polar regions, national coordination of polar research projects and logistic support of polar expeditions from other German institutes. Furthermore, the AWI takes care of international co-operation in polar and marine research. Research work is carried out on board RV "Polarstern", in the laboratories of the Institute as well as on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. The objective is to achieve a better understanding of the complex relationship flora. Special attention is given to developments in global change accelerated by human impact. In addition to these activities concentrated on polar regions there are some long-term research programmes in the North Sea as well as co-operative projects with South America.

The Institute comprises eight scientific departments: biology I and II, chemistry, geology, geophysics/glaciology, physics of the ocean and the atmosphere (field studies and modeling), and marine physics. Furthermore there are central services, such as administration, logistics, public relations, international bureau, library, and a data processing centre. A Board (Kuratorium) composed of government representatives and of personalities of scientific and public life, decides on general and financial matters of the foundation. A Scientific Advisory Board (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat) gives advice to the Board and the directorate. A Scientific Council (Wissenschaftlicher Rat) composed of the leaders of the eight scientific departments and three elected scientists of the Institute assists the directorate in developing the research programme.

The AWI branch in Potsdam
The AWI branch in Potsdam opened in 1 January 1992. According to the recommendations of the German Science Council the mandate of the branch is to maintain and develop both the Antarctic research and the long term programmes of the former GDR and to integrate them into German polar research. The fields of activities of the branch complete the AWI research programme. Research Programme

German polar research is carried out by university institutes, federal research institutes, Max Planck Institutes as well as by AWI itself. the Institute has cooperative agreements with several universities. Scientists of the Institute teach at the University of Bremen, but also in Kiel, Munich, Muenster, and Oldenburg.

The focal point of the research programme - The system ocean - ice - atmosphere and its importance for the world climate - mainly comprises physical projects: oceans, atmosphere and ice are subject to various interactions over periods ranging from a few days to some hundred years. Through measurements and modeling scientists of the AWI study the exchange processes in the polar seas, the ocean currents in the Southern and Northern polar seas, as well as structure, mass balance and dynamics of shelf and inland ice. Remote sensing of the ocean, the atmosphere, and of inland and sea ice has been intensified during the recent years.
The second focal point of the Institute research programme deals with living communities of the polar seas. Marine biologists and chemists study the ecology and ecophysiology of single species and groups as well as the structure and development of marine living communities and their ecological interactions. Chemistry and biochemistry of marine and atmospheric trace gases are also examined. The reconstruction of the geological history of the polar continents and seas is the third focal point of the AWI research programme. It mainly comprises research in geosciences concentrating on sedimentation history and sedimentation processes of marine sediments in high latitudes, age determination of sediments, and transformation processes of sediments. Other important work includes the physical examination of sediments near to the surface, study of the structure of the Antarctic continental margin in the Weddell Sea and the South Atlantic, the determination of anomalies of the Earth gravity field, and examination of the structure of the Greenland continental margin, and the structure of the oceanic lithosphere in the Arctic Basin.

The AWI and the University of Bremen co-operate in a special research project "The South Atlantic in the late quarternary - reconstruction of mass budget and current systems".

The ice-breaking polar research and supply vessel RV "Polarstern" is the most important tool for German polar research. The ship is equipped for multidisciplinary work in marine research thus enabling larger research groups from different disciplines to work on board at the same time. For approximately 320 days a year RV "Polarstern" is at sea. It usually does research work in the Antarctic from November to March and in the Arctic during the northern summer. The ship passages from the northern to the southern hemisphere and back are also used for scientific work, especially concerning air chemistry, even in the tropics. For research in North Sea waters, the Institute owns the 39 meter research vessel "Victor Hensen". Occasionally the ship is also used in the tropics.

The research aircraft "Polar 2" and "Polar 4" of the AWI are equipped for photogrammetric and geophysical work on ice shelves and rocky regions as well as for meteorological ad oceanographic surveys. Neumayer Station, built in 1992 in the Antarctic in succession to Georg von Neumayer Station (built in 1981) is situated on the ice shelf of Akta Bay in the Weddell Sea. The station is permanently occupied and operates observatories for meteorology, geophysics, and air chemistry.

Additionally, the Institute operates - at regular intervals - the following summer stations: Filchner Station, located on the Filchner Ice Shelf about 1450 km southwest of Neumayer Station, Jubany Station, attached at the Argentine station on King George Island, Drescher Station, and Georg Forster Station in the Schirmacher Oasis. At the Arctic Koldewey Station in Ny-Aalesund (Spitsbergen) meteorological and air chemistry research continues throughout the year. Computers, workstations, and PCs are available in the Institute for data processing, data evaluation, and graphical representation. The Institute is connected to national and international computer networks.

National co-ordination
The AWI co-ordinates polar research in Germany. It co-operates closely with the National Committee of the International Committees for Antarctic Research (SCAR) and Arctic Research (IASC), as well as the Focal Programme "Antarctic Research" of the German Research Society (DFG) and the DFG-Committees for Oceanography, for Atmospheric Sciences and for Geosciences. Besides scientific co-operation and aircraft.

International co-operation
The AWI works in close contact with various universities and institutes all over the world. AWI scientists work on foreign research vessels and at institutes and research stations abroad. The Institute invites foreign scientists to work and learn aboard "Polarstern" and in Bremerhaven and Potsdam. About 25% of the scientists participating in "Polarstern" expeditions are from outside of Germany. America. Therefore an international bureau for marine and polar research, "Southamerica" has been inaugurated at the AWI by the Federal Ministry for Research and Technology in 1990. The Institute participates in numerous international research programmes and in projects of the European Science Foundation (ESF, Strassbourg). Furthermore the secretariats of two international organizations have been established at the International Bureau of the AWI: the secretariat of the National Committee SCAR/IASC and the secretariat of the German IOC-Section.

The AWI publishes the occasional series "Reports on Polar Research". They contain expedition reports and results of research carried out or supported by the Institute. Since 1987 the "Polarstern Abstracts" are published containing abstracts of all scientific publications concerning "Polarstern". The compiled information may be subject to changees. Updated versions and additional news can be picked up bymeans of WWW-page:

Last_name: Reinke
First_name: Manfred
Phone: +49 471 / 4831 -503
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Bremerhaven Germany

Revision_Date: 1995-07-07
Science_Review_Date: 1995-07-07

Data Center URL