Arctic ocean modelers in Woods Hole

A whole delegation from AWI met at the airport in Bremen on a Monday morning in November, heading to Boston in Massachusetts. After a hectic stopover in Munich, we entered the transatlantic flight one minute before takeoff, and could relax for the next 7 hours. Continue reading

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The month on Polarstern coming to an end

The cruise on Polarstern basically spanned a section across the Fram Strait, with the last station being in Kongsfjorden. As we sailed eastwards, approaching the station, Claudia and I were on deck to do underway measurements with a towed CTD. The night before we had seen the mountains of Spitzbergen in the distance, and whales had followed us all night, but now, the sea had become misty. Suddenly Andreas pointed behind us, and we now saw that we had sailed into the Fjord without noticing, and that we were now surrounded by steep mountains. Continue reading

A day on Polarstern

I wake up from the buzzing of my phone. It’s dark in the room and my eyes refuse to open. Whatever, I will sleep a bit more.

When I’m woken again, I don’t feel any more awake than I did the first time. But I know I should get up. I have been sleeping for nine hours – that somehow should be enough. The door behind our room is repeatedly slammed open and then closed, accompanied by running feet and muffled talking. There’s probably whales outside. Continue reading

Steaming northwards through the Norwegian Sea

The Norwegian Sea is calmer than the Baltic had been during our three week summer holiday, and we are now steaming steadily northwards. People are busy preparing their gear for the first station and finding their way on the Polarstern.

Polarstern usually spends our summer in the Arctic and our winter in the Antarctic, with relatively short stops in Bremerhaven in between. This year, two cruises have been carried out in the ice covered area north of Svalbard already, and two additional cruises are planned in the Arctic after our cruise has finished. Continue reading

Towards the Fram Strait

As the plane approached Tromsø, we could see the rugged coast line below, with the islands of Lofoten clearly standing out. We landed in bright sunshine, marveling at the beautiful landscape around us. The trip had started at three in the morning when the sound of my alarm clock woke me up, and at four, before the sun had risen, a bus with passengers still half asleep left the Alfred Wegener Institute and headed for Hamburg airport. In Oslo our group met up with those who had flown from Bremen, and soon we were on our way towards Tromsø where the research vessel Polarstern was waiting. Continue reading

Polarstern in Bremerhaven

“But where were the polar bears?” We were all on our way back to the car after visiting AWI’s ice breaker, the Polarstern – and Mattis has learned enough about my work to know that Polarstern equals ice and snow, which apparently equals polar bears. But they were not there. We did, however, see a helicopter, labs, sleeping quarters and even a film with penguins – but no polar bears. Continue reading

A workshop in Potsdam; the Lena Delta

Currently, my work focusses on the Arctic Ocean – that is, the whole Arctic Ocean, a fairly large area. I don’t really focus on the many rivers that supply fresh water to the Arctic Ocean. But in connection with a permafrost conference in Potsdam, a friend and colleague of mine, Vera, arranged a workshop focussing on the Lena River, Lena Delta and Laptev Sea. I thought it would be interesting to join. Continue reading

Sea-ice in our model

To understand how the Arctic sea ice is changing and how it affects for example the underlying ocean currents, we work with a global sea ice ocean model (FESOM). For the last few years, a lot of effort has been put into improving the representation of the sea ice in the model. One focus has been on the large cracks – or leads, to use the correct name, that we know exist in reality. These are very difficult to capture in large scale models, but my colleague Qiang has now succeeded in modelling these leads and has put a video of the results on youtube. In this run, the horizontal resolution is 4.5 km in the Arctic Ocean. That’s quiet high.

Changes in Arctic sea ice

I knew that climate change was occurring when I started working at AWI, but I was not aware of how rapidly the temperature is changing in the Arctic or to what extent it has changed the area of the sea-ice.

The thing is, that while temperatures are increasing all over the planet, the increase happens faster in the Arctic than anywhere else; studies show that the mean Arctic temperature in 2010 was 4 degrees C warmer than the average for 1968 to 2010. And 2010 was not a particularly warm year. Continue reading