Arctic & Antarctica
Luftaufnahme: Das Expeditionsschiff Polarstern bei einer Fahrt durch antarktisches Meereis, Weddell-Meer ©Mario Hoppmann


The German climate expedition to the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica has ceased. The reason is that the ice floes are momentarily too thick: up to ten metres at some places. This is too dense for the expedition ship Polar Stern to continue their mission.

“We tried to make our way through the ice for seven days,” says Captain Thomas Wunderlicht, “but the ice conditions left us no other choice”.


The Polar Stern left for the Antarctic on the 9th of February to investigate the effects of global warming. At the end of December, the span of the Antarctic sea ice was 4.94 million square kilometres, the lowest volume since the start of continuous satellite measurements. However, the expedition deep in the south of the western Weddell Sea could not benefit from this.

On the 9th of February, the research team left for the A68 iceberg area to explore the marine ecosystem that had previously been hidden under the ice shelf, and recently uncovered by global warming.

The Polar Stern currently continues north towards new research areas. “In the previously defined alternative work areas of Larsen A and Larsen B we also got jammed,” says expedition leader Dr Boris Dorschel of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI).  After extensive consultation with all the research teams on board, the scientists decided to concentrate their work on an accessible region in the north-western Weddell Sea.

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