ResearchThe institute has three major departments: *Climate System Department, which studies oceans, ice and Earth's atmosphere, atmosphere as physical and chemical systems. *Biosciences Department, which studies the biological processes in marine and coastal ecosystems. *Geoscientific Department, which studies climate development, especially as revealed by sediments.
FacilitiesThe institute is distributed over several sites within North Germany and the Otto Schmidt Laboratory for Polar and Marine Research (OSL) at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in Saint Petersburg as Russian-German cooperation in the field of Arctic research, named after the polar explorer Otto Schmidt.
BremerhavenThe headquarters was founded by Gotthilf Hempel. Nowadays, the AWI has several buildings within the city of . * Building D is located next to the old port (German: '':de:Alter Hafen (Bremerhaven), Alter Hafen''). The dark Clinker brick, clink-brick building was designed by Oswald Mathias Ungers in 1985 who won the List of architecture prizes, architecture-award '':de:Großer BDA-Preis, BDA-prize'' for the building. It hosts the AWI library, the main lecture hall and various laboratories and offices. * The main building E is next to the Lock (water transport), lock '':de:Doppelschleuse (Bremerhaven), Doppelschleuse''. Main characteristics are the chequered tiles and the fact that there are three office towers. The building was designed by :de:Otto Steidle, Otto Steidle and constructed in 2004 as an extension of the complex A,B,C. * House F is close to the Weser ferry at the Geeste (river), Geeste estuary. The housing association StäWoG (German: ''Städtische Wohnungsgesellschaft'') renovated the building of the former nautical college (German: ''Hochschule für Seefahrt'') in 1999. For this reason, there is a planetarium which is nowadays used by the Bremerhaven's friends of the stars. * The small Bathymetry Building is located close to the Bremerhaven Radar Tower, radar tower. * The Nordsee Villa formerly belonged to the fast-food restaurant chain Nordsee and hosts a few offices of AWI. Nowadays it is a :de:Haus der Technik (Essen), Haus der Technik and part of the oldest German institute for technical further education with close cooperation to RWTH Aachen and other universities. * The Harbour Warehouse (German: ''Hafenlager'') is located within the Lloyd Werft, see Lloyd Werft Map.
PotsdamThe Forschungstelle Potsdam is situated on the Telegrafenberg next to Potsdam. It belongs to AWI since 1992. The research focuses on the atmospheric physics and atmospheric chemistry of the atmosphere on the one hand and periglacial research on the other hand.
SyltThe Wadden Sea Station Sylt is located on the North German island Sylt. It was founded in 1924 as an oyster laboratory to study the decline of oyster stocks and in order to study how they could be cultivated. In 1937, the name changed from ''oyster laboratory'' to ''Wadden Sea station''. The station grew, and in 1949 the station was shifted from the northernmost edge of the island to the current location, next to the harbor of List, Schleswig-Holstein, List. In 1998 the station became part of AWI. Nowadays, there are about 30 scientists and technicians. Two guest houses allow to perform workshops and video conferences are possible with the AWI headquarters. The research focuses on coast ecology and coast geology. In the 1930 there have been oyster reefs below the mussel banks at the water level. Below these, there have been sabellaria reefs which have been destroyed by fishery. Nowadays there are only the mussel banks left.
HelgolandThe Biologische Anstalt Helgoland is situated at on the island Heligoland (German: ''Helgoland''). The station exists since 1892. Scientists study the ecology of the in this research station. Since 1962, at Heligoland roadstead , phytoplankton and water samples are taken every weekday morning, the turbidity is measured (e.g. using a Secchi disk) and other parameters are recorded. The warmed by 1.65 °C since the start of the time series.
StationsThe institute maintains several research stations around the Arctic Ocean and on the continent.
Neumayer StationNeumayer-Station III is located at , about away from the previous station, ''Neumayer II'' which is now abandoned and covered by a thick ice cover. The new station
Dallmann LaboratoryIn cooperation with the Instituto Antártico Argentino (IAA), in 1994 the AWI opened a research station on King George Island (South Shetland Islands), King George Island at . The station is named after Eduard Dallmann, a German whaler, trader and Polar explorer living next to Bremen.
Koldewey StationKoldewey Station at is named after the German polar explorer Carl Koldewey and part of the French-German Arctic Research ''AWIPEV'' Arctic in Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard.
Kohnen StationKohnen Station was established in 2001 as logistical base for ice core drilling in Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica at
Samoylov StationSamoylov Station is a Russian research station at lays within the Lena Delta close to the Laptev Sea. The station was set up as a logistic base for joint Russian-German permafrost studies by the ''Lena Delta Reserve'' (LDR) and the AWI.
ShipsAltogether there are six ships that belong to AWI.
RV ''Polarstern''The AWI flagship is Germany's research icebreaker RV Polarstern, RV ''Polarstern''. The ship was commissioned in 1982. The double-hulled icebreaker is operational up to temperatures as low as −50 °C (−58 °F). Polarstern can break through sea ice of 1.5 m thickness at a speed of 5 knots, thicker ice must be broken by ramming. A possible but not probable follow-up flagship might be the Aurora Borealis (icebreaker), research icebreaker ''Aurora Borealis''.
RV ''Heincke''The vessel RV ''Heincke'' is a multifunctional and low-noise ship for research in ice-free waters, named after German zoology, zoologist and Ichthyology, ichthyologist Friedrich Heincke . With a length of 54.6 metre, m, a width of 12.5 m and a Draft (hull), draft 4.16 m, the ship is categorized as "medium research vessel" within the German research fleet. The ship was put into operation in 1990, its building costs have been around 16 Millionen Euro. On the vessel, up to 12 scientists and 8 crew members can work for up to 30 passage days. This corresponds to an operating range of roughly 7500 nautical miles. The shipowner is Briese Schiffahrts GmbH & Co. KG from Leer, a city in East Frisia.
RV ''Uthörn''The research cutter (boat), cutter RV ''Uthörn'' is named after the small island Uthörn next to Sylt in the . The vessel is regularly on research tours in German Bight, but is also used to supply the AWI branch ''Alfred Wegener Institute, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland'' mentioned above. Two scientists and 4 crew members can live and work on board for up to 180 days, but the vessel mainly used for day trips. Another operation purpose are short term cruises of a few hours for up to 25 students to demonstrate Oceanography, oceanographic and biological sampling methods. Being commissioned in 1982 RV ''Uthörn'' replaced a vessel with the same name which was built in 1947 and had a length of 24 metre, m. The current vessel is powered by two V12 engine, V12 Four-stroke engine, four-stroke Diesel engines manufactured by the company MWM GmbH from Mannheim. Each engine delivers up to 231 kW to a controllable-pitch propeller; the maximal speed is around 10 Knot (unit), kn. On the working deck (ship), deck, there is a dry lab and a laboratory for wet work like sorting fish. The ship is equipped with standard sampling devices: You may find on board a demersal trawl, a Van Veen Grab Sampler, Niskin bottles, and even deprecated reversing thermometers for teaching purposes.
''Mya'', ''Aade'' and ''Diker''The research catamaran ''Mya'' is specially designed for research in the intertidal zone, it can fall dry at low tide. The main research area is the Wadden Sea. Last but not least, there are two small motor boats, ''Aade'' and ''Diker'' for sampling and diving operations around Heligoland.
Past aircraftThe Alfred Wegener Institute operated five airplanes under the name of ''Polar'', those being:Ehemalige Flugzeuge
Current fleetAWI currently uses two Basler BT-67. These planes are 20 m long, 5.2 m high and have a wingspan of 29 m. The empty weight is 7680 kg, with ski landing gear it weighs 8340 kg. The minimal cruising speed is 156 km/h, the maximum is SFA. Without payload, the flying range is around 3900 km. The planes are maintained by the company Kenn Borek Air located in Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Polar 5The plane hull was built in 1942 but completely refurbished after the AWI acquired the plane in 2007. Since then it "has supplied a large volume of valuable data" said Prof. :de:Heinrich Miller, Heinrich Miller, the former director of the AWI.
Polar 6This plane with the call sign C-FHGF was acquired by AWI in 2011. The BMBF, the German Federal Minister of Education and Research funded the purchase and equipping of the plane with a total of 9.78 million euros.
History* In January 2005, Polar 4 was severely damaged during a rough landing at the British over-wintering station Rothera on the Antarctic Peninsula. As it was impossible to repair the plane, the aircraft had to be decommissioned. Since then, scientific and logistical tasks of polar flights have been performed by ''Polar 2''.
Polar 3 incidentOn 24 February 1985, the ''Polar 3'', a research airplane of the institute of the type Dornier 228, was shot down by guerrillas of the Polisario Front over West Sahara. All three crew members died. ''Polar 3'', together with unharmed ''Polar 2'', was on its way back from Antarctica and had taken off in Dakar, Senegal, to reach Arrecife, Canary Islands.
See also* Open access in Germany