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Departure to cold water corals and other 'hot spots'

The research vessel, Polarstern leaves Bremerhaven for its 22nd Arctic expedition with a new shine, to begin its first work in the International polar year.

Bremerhaven, 24 May 2007. With a new coat of paint, thorough ship inspection, and sailing under the flag of the Helmholtz Association, Polarstern begins to make its way toward the north on May 29. The flagship of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), is initially heading to Northern Norway and then on to Spitsbergen during its 22nd Arctic expedition. One of the scientific priorities is the European project HERMES (Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margins Of European Seas), in which the ecological ecosystems of the deep sea will be investigated. The manned underwater craft, JAGO, belonging to the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, IFM GEOMAR from Kiel and the remote-controlled underwater craft QUEST from the MARUM of the University of Bremen are all planning to be used.

130 scientists from 11 countries, divided into three groups will participate in the expedition. Professor Dr. Jrn Thiede, director of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research will take the scientific leadership of the first stage. The focus of this research will be the coldwater corals off the coast of Norway. Coldwater corals develop in a similar way to their tropical reef counterparts. They form unique ecosystems, within which, one may be able to find more than 600 different animal species. With the help of the underwater craft, JAGO, the coral reef will be able to be examined, photographed and probed. A scientist will be able to accompany the crafts pilot down to about 400 meters below the sea.

The second stage of the expedition will be lead by Dr, Michael Klages (AWI) and will go to the Hkon-Mosby mud volcano, located off the Norwegian coast. It is an underwater discharge point for methane gas at a depth of 1250 meters. The investigation of this mud volcan
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Contact: Angelika Dummermuth
Angelika.Dummermuth@awi.de
49-471-483-11742
Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research
24-May-2007


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