- National Committee: German National Committee for SCAR/IASC, email; website: www.scar-iasc.de
Germany has a long and involved history in Antarctica from the expedition led by Eduard Dallman in 1873-74, through the Heroic Agewith expeditions into the Weddell Sea (Erich von Drygalski 1901-1903 and Filchner 1911-1912). During the last four decades, Germany developed a strong Antarctic programme and is now at the forefront of modern research in Antarctica.
Germany is a signatory nation to the Antarctic Treaty with the former East Germany (DDR) signing in 1974 and the former West Germany signing in 1979 and both joined SCAR in 1981 (BRD) and 1982 (DDR). The German national SCAR committee was established in 1978 by the German Research Foundation (DFG), which is the official member of SCAR.Within the Treaty, Germany is a consultative party with voting rights able to make decisions about Antarctica. Germany held the XVIII SCAR Delegates meeting in Bremerhaven in 1984 and twenty years later the XXVIII SCAR Delegates meeting and first Open Science Conference in the same location.
The lead agency for the German national Antarctic Programme is the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) which was established as a foundation of public law in 1980 and which conducts research in the Arctic and Antarctic, as well as in temperate latitudes. AWI works closely with university groups and research institutions within Germany and beyond to coordinate research efforts in Antarctica. The institute has an important role in keeping the federal government updated on its research results and providing competent advice for the development of environmental policies. The AWI works in the following scientific topic fields: reconstructing the history of the polar continents and seas; ecology and physiology of key species and changes of habitats in polar regions; the coupled ocean-ice-atmosphere system and its importance for the global climate; biogeochemical fluxes of carbon in polar regions and their impact on global carbon cycles and atmosphere. AWI also hosts the global data base for the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN).
The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR) focuses on geological and geophysical research in the Antarctic since 1976 in close cooperation with German and foreign universities and research institutions. Since 1979, BGR’s ongoing GANOVEX programme (German Antarctic North Victoria Land Expedition) has been conducting geoscientific research in northern Victoria Land and adjacent regions in the greater Ross Sea area. BGR has also organized several expeditions to East Antarctica, e.g. within the frame of the GEA programme (Geodynamic Evolution of East Antarctica). BGR is responsible for the land-based component of German geoscientific research in the Antarctic. Its main targets focus on the crustal structure and evolution of Antarctica and its relationship to the neighbouring continents within the former Gondwana and Rodinia supercontinents. In addition to institutional research, coordinated German polar research is supported by DFG within the framework of a Priority Programme since 1981.
AWI operates three Antarctic research stations. Neumayer III is the current winter over base on the Ekstrom Ice Shelf, having been constructed between 2007 and 2009, the third station to occupy this space since 1981. Close by, at 757 kilometers away, is Kohnen Station, a summer base which was established in 2001 and used for deep ice core drilling purposes for the EPICA project until 2006 and now serves a deep ice lab and as an advance base for deep field activities on the polar plateau. The Dallmann Laboratory, founded in 1994, is a smaller seasonal working space with four laboratories. It is an annex to the Argentinian base Carlini on King George island, operated jointly with Instituto Antarctico Argentino (IAA). The BGR operates Gondwana Station as a summer base at Gerlache Inlet in the Terra-Nova Bay of the Ross Sea since 1983. In 1980, BGR erected the Lillie-Marleen-Hut in the Everett Range of the Transantarctic Mountains; the hut has been recognized as a “Historic Site” by the Antarctic Treaty System and is still used temporarily as a base for geoscientific operations in the region. Since 1991 the German Aerospace Center (DLR) operates the GARS O’Higgins Station at the Antarctic Peninsula (as a winter base since 2010).
The pride of the AWI is the icebreaker RV Polarstern first commissioned in 1982. The ship is equipped for biological, geological, geophysical, glaciological, chemical, oceanographic and meteorological research, and contains nine research laboratories. The ship has a maximum crew of 44, and offers work facilities for a further 50 scientists and technicians. Plans for a new icebreaker are currently under development. There are two ski equipped polar aircraft (BASLER BT-67) which can be used both for logistic and science purposes. They can be equipped for aerogeophysical, meteorological, glaciological and atmospheric chemistry studies.