The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Arctic Ice Enlarge image (© The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, the Antarctic and at temperate latitudes. It coordinates polar research in Germany and provides both the necessary equipment and the essential logistic back up for polar expeditions. Recent additional research themes include North Sea research, contributions to marine biological monitoring, marine pollution research, investigation of naturally occurring marine substances and technical marine developments.

The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) was established as a public foundation in 1980. It includes the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, the AWI in Potsdam (1992), the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland and the AWI in List/Sylt. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) covers 90% of financing, the state of Bremen 8% and the states of Brandenburg and Schleswig-Holstein provide 1% each. The AWI employs over 900 staff and had a total budget of more than 100 million euro in 2012.

The Institute's research mission is to improve our understanding of ocean-ice-atmosphere interactions, the animal and plant kingdoms of the Arctic and Antarctic, and the evolution of the polar continents and seas. Given the major role played by these regions within the earth's climate system, global change is a central focus of the research effort at AWI. Polarstern Enlarge image Icebreaker and research ship FS Polarstern and Emperor Penguins in the Weddell Sea, Antarctica (© picture alliance / Arco Images Gmb)

AWI collaborates in numerous international research programs and maintains close contacts with many universities and institutes in Europe and elsewhere. It sends scientists to other institutes throughout the world, to other research ships and stations, and invites scientists from other nations to cruises aboard their research ship "Polarstern", as well as to Bremerhaven and Potsdam. About a quarter of those participating in "Polarstern" expeditions are scientists from abroad.



Since the ship was first commissioned on December 9th 1982 Polarstern has completed a total of more than fifty expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. It was specially designed for working in the polar seas and is currently one of the most sophisticated polar research vessels in the world.