Expedition to the Arctic

Tuesday 6 May 2014
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Laura Wischnewski, a student of Forensic Sciences at Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University, is taking part in an expedition to Spitzbergen together with a team of researchers from the Alfred Wegener/Helmholtz Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven. At the research site she is examining the combined effects of ocean acidification, temperature and light on Arctic phytoplankton populations.

"At present I’m at the AWIPEV research site in Ny-Alesund, Spitzbergen. During the first two weeks we unpacked and set up our equipment, as well as testing and calibrating all technical appliances."

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To assess the effects resulting from the melting of the ocean ice layer, plankton samples taken from the Kongsfjord in Spitzbergen are being collected and exposed to varying conditions in the laboratory.

“Every few days we take a little research boat to get to a research site in Kongsfjord. There we take samples, which are then tested for their nutrient and chlorophyll concentration levels. The data gives us an insight into the progress of the phytoplankton bloom. Yesterday we started our incubation experiments in the laboratory.”

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The experiments are aimed at exploring the interdependencies between three of the most important influences of future climate change. Oceans and their organisms will be exposed to a variety of effects relating to global climate change in the near future, with the most considerable changes expected to occur in the Arctic regions.

The Alfred-Wegener-Institute conducts research in the Arctic and Antarctic and in the medium and high latitude oceans. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides national and international researchers, among other things, with the research ice-breaker Polarstern and several research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic regions.