PACES II Programme

Topic 1: Changes and regional feedbacks in Arctic and Antarctic


Field camp on the margin of a continental ice sheet to collect ice samples in Northeast Greenland (Photo: Hans Oerter, AWI)

The Polar Regions have shown the largest climate change signal in recent decades. Yet they belong to the least understood parts of the Earth system, which is largely due to the harsh environmental conditions that poses special challenges for field studies. Quantifying the contemporary variability and changes and understanding the relevant processes in the cryosphere, oceans, atmosphere and the biosphere in the north and south Polar Regions is, however, a prerequisite to determine the role of the high latitudes in the Earth system and to project its future development (Topic 3).

Spokespersons for Topic 1:

Workpackage 1: The polar atmosphere, interaction with sea ice, ocean and frozen land

A combination of in-situ process studies, long-term climate process monitoring, regional and global climate modelling will be applied to improve the current insufficient understanding of the polar climate system.

Workpackage 2: Ice sheet dynamics and mass balance

To further quantify driving factors for changing ice dynamics by performing theoretical, numerical and experimental process and system studies and contribute to refined mass balance estimates.

Workpackage 3: Degrading permafrost landscapes; carbon, energy and water fluxes

To identify and quantify key processes and parameters influencing and controlling the vulnerability of the Arctic permafrost carbon pools to future climate change.

Workpackage 4: Arctic sea ice and its interaction with ocean and ecosystems

To provide evidence and understanding of the causes and consequences of variation in sea ice cover for the hydro-, bio- and geosphere of the Arctic Ocean and beyond.

Workpackage 5: Southern Ocean physics, biodiversity, and biogeochemical fluxes in a changing climate

Assess the changes that occur in the Southern Ocean, identify the processes that link physics, chemistry and biology, and determine the feedback mechanisms to the global climate system.

Workpackage 6: Large scale variability and change in polar benthic biota and ecosystem functions

To identify, understand, and anticipate large scale and long-term change in ecosystem function and services provided by benthic and demersal biota of Arctic and Antarctic marine habitats.