German research vessels and stations
The most powerful polar research vessel in the world will contribute to many expeditions during the IPY. She can take up to 50 scientists and technicians to their study sites who are then supported by 44 crew members during sampling. She is operated and coordinated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI).
The youngest member of the German research vessel fleet will also take part in the International Polar Year. Most of Merian's expeditions will carry scientists into the northern polar regions around Spitsbergen and the Labrador Sea in the north-west Atlantic. The vessel is operated by the Baltic Sea Research Institute (IOW) and co-ordinated from the Meteor control station. Beyond its 21 person crew the vessel provides space for 22 scientists. It is designed to operate along the ice margin.
How and when certain research vessels will be in operation during IPY can be found on the ASCI site (Arctic Ship Coordination during IPY).
The aircrafts are used first and foremost to carry scientific measuring systems. They are also available for transporting people and materials, and are on call at all times for SAR (Search and Rescue) operations.
The research station of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) provides accomodation and office space in the Blue House. The excellent lab facilities can be utilised by Arctic polar researchers from all around the world. Fundamental research is facilitated by highly sophisticated technology available at the station. Primary research projects at Koldeway include investigations of the ozone layer, 'Arctic haze', as well as the effects of elevated UVB-radiation on Arctic ocean ecosystems.
Named after the patron of German Antarctic research, Georg von Neumayer (1826 - 1909), the station is one of the few facilities on the continent that are operated year around. The station is located within the Norwegian sector of Antarctica, approximately 10 kilometers off the edge of the ice shalf, 200 m thick. Atmospheric and climate research provide the scientific focus.
The Dallmann Laboratory on King George Island is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in collaboration with the Argentine Antarctic Institute and its Jubany Station close by. The laboratories, repair shops, aquariums and SCUBA diving facilities provide excellent research conditions, especially for biologists. Just as at Kohnen Station, the laboratories can only be operated during the austral summer, with some extensions into October and March.
Kohnen Station is located 700 kilometres south of Neumayer Station. Its main purpose is the reconstruction of past climates through retrieval of ice cores. In contrast to Neumayer Station, and similiar to the Dallmann Laboratory, it is operated only during summer, i.e. from December to mid February.
The future of German polar research
The European research vessel Aurora Borealis, currently still under design, will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology, such as an integrated drilling system. The specialised hull construction will enable Aurora Borealis to travel the polar oceans even during winter, whilst providing top quality working conditions and safety.
Construction of a new Antarctic station became crucial, because the current Neumayer Station, under operation since 1991, has been gradually disappearing into the ice through continual snowfall. The innovative construction design on hydraulic stilts, patented by the Alfred Wegener Institute, will enable the new station to remain permanently above the ice surface.