4 Research Infrastructure

Modern research is not possible without scientific infrastructure. This also applies to earth system research. All research centers in the Research Field Earth and Environment therefore maintain high-performance scientific facilities. However, the Helmholtz Association additionally operates large, cost-intensive infrastructures that are available for all national and international research. In a scientific review, it is decided which research groups will receive access and research time with their projects. Seven of these large research platforms (so-called LKII-infrastructures) are operated under the umbrella of the Research Field Earth and Environment.

Zwei Forschende richten Messstation ein
© UFZ/André Künzelmann

RV Alkor and Ocean Robotics

The Alkor’s area of operation is primarily the North East Atlantic Ocean with its shelf seas, which also include the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The 55 meter long ship has 4 laboratories. Oceanographic, biological, fisheries, geophysical and geological research is carried out on board. Furthermore GEOMAR provides a number of diving robots and robotic systems for marine science expeditions.

Forschungsschiff ALKOR

Research Vessel Heincke

The Heincke’s main areas of operation are the North Sea and the North Atlantic. Home port of the ship is Helgoland. In the summer months, the expeditions of the second largest research vessel in the AWI fleet can also go as far as the Arctic archipelago of Spitsbergen. The Heincke can take up to twelve researchers on board. On the cruises, mainly biological, geoscientific and hydrographic research is carried out.

© AWI/Kristina Baer

Research Vessel Polarstern

The research icebreaker Polarstern is one of the most important tools in German polar research. The flagship of the Alfred Wegener Institute has been crossing the polar waters of the Antarctic and the Arctic alternately since 1982 and can take up to 55 researchers on board. In addition to the scientific work during the expeditions, the Polarstern also serves to supply the German Antarctic research station “Neumayer III”.

© AWI/Stefan Hendricks

Sea Stations Helgoland and Sylt

The marine biological stations on Helgoland and Sylt are long-standing facilities for research in the North Sea and the German Bight. Their valuable ecological long-term data are permanently available to national and international institutions. German and international scientists regularly use the two stations for their own research and training activities. In addition to modern scientific equipment and workplaces, facilities also include smaller coastal research vessels and a center for scientific diving.

Forscher im Wattenmeer
© AWI/Tina Wagner

Modular Earth Science Infrastructure (MESI)

The GFZ provides its wide-ranging modular infrastructure MESI (Modular Earth Science Infrastructure) for academic use by external parties, largely free of charge. This includes satellite systems, global observatories, high-tech laboratories and a wide variety of equipment for mobile use. The scientific data and data products generated via MESI are freely accessible.

GFZ-Laserstation Potsdam
© GFZ/Ludwig Grunwaldt

Neumayer Station III

Neumayer Station III (NM III) is an Antarctic research station on the Ekström Ice Shelf in Dronning-Maud Land, operated year-round by the Alfred Wegener Institute. It is the logistical backbone for German and international research in the region and continues, among other things, long-term scientific observations that began in 1981 with the inauguration of the first station on the Ekström Ice Shelf. With the NM III and its two predecessor stations, Germany fulfills scientific, political and logistical obligations within the framework of the international Antarctic treaty system.

Die deutsche Antarktis-Forschungsstation Neumayer-Station III, Aufnahme bei Nacht, Dunkelheit
© AWI/Stefan Christmann

Research Aircraft

In the hard-to-reach, ice-covered areas of the Arctic and Antarctic, the use of research aircraft is often indispensable. Polar 5 and Polar 6 are in use for the AWI, the two planes can land on concrete, gravel and snow runways with the help of a combined ski and wheel chassis. On their multi-week expeditions, researchers use the polar planes to explore the interactions between the earth’s crust, ice and snow-covered areas, oceans and the atmosphere.

Forschungsflugzeug Polar 6
© AWI/Michael Fischer

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