©Sebastian Grote / Alfred Wegener Institute
The research vessel Polarstern was first commissioned in 1982. Since then, the ship has completed almost 300 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Specially designed for working in polar seas, Polarstern is still one of the most sophisticated polar research and supply vessels in the world. And although it has been in service for over 35 years, it can still fully perform its operational duties thanks to the modern technology on board.
In the autumn of 2019, Polarstern embarked on the MOSAiC expedition, the greatest Arctic expedition of all time: for over a year the research icebreaker drifted across the Arctic Ocean, trapped in the sea ice. Hundreds of scientists from more than 80 institutes in 20 countries researched the Arctic during the course of the year and investigated the effects of climate change.
The ship is equipped for research in the areas of biology, geology, geophysics, glaciology, chemistry, oceanography and meteorology. It has nine research laboratories and can be equipped with additional laboratory containers.
This research vessel is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven. It is owned by the Federal Government, represented by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Max. 44 crew and approx. 50 researchers
Daily cost of operation: 70,000 euros
Approx. 310 days a year at sea
Scientists on board Polarstern conduct
The Alfred Wegener Institute, which operates Polarstern, has a budget of 146 million euros (2018). Because the AWI belongs to the Helmholtz Association, 90% of its annual budget comes from federal funds, with 10% provided by three German states (Länder).