Polarstern 78°N 4°E
Now we have been on Polarstern for 12 days, and we have been quite successful in our research. As you might understand we don’t do research 24 hours a day. So what do we do during our spare time? There’s some equipment for doing exercise onboard, such as a gym with weightlifting and bicycles. It’s really good to be able to stay in shape. There’s also a small pool in the boat where you can go swimming, or as I often do, play water ball. This is kind of basketball in the water, it is great fun! There’s also a table for playing table tennis. In the evening we often watch a movie or read a book. Another great thing to do is standing on the bridge and watch the scenery and animals. Yesterday I saw my first whale, it was great! I only saw it for ten seconds before it disappeared under the ice, but it’s amazing to see these animals.
Some of the models of climate change predict that there will be a shift in productivity in the Arctic Ocean. In the upper layers of the ocean the productivity will increase while it decreases in the deep-sea. To be able to monitor the long-term effects in the deep-sea the Alfred Wegner Institute established a research area called Hausgarten in 1999. The deep-sea is a special area because there is no light, which means there is no primary production from algae or other plants using photosynthesis. Organisms living on and in the bottom of the ocean are therefore depending on organic material falling down from upper layers of the ocean, e.g. decaying phytoplankton, as energy resource. From the year 2000 there has been a change with decreasing amount of material reaching the ocean floor. This has an effect on the total biomass of the ocean floor and recent data show data show that the density of many species is decreasing. If this continues it will have a considerable impact on the whole deep-sea ecosystem.
Photos: Henri Robert, Eduard Bauerfeind