Change of Leadership at the Alfred Wegener Institute and EU-PolarNet


Karin Lochte passes the baton to Antje Boetius

On 1 November 2017 Prof Antje Boetius will assume leadership of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), and thus also become the new EU-PolarNet coordinator. She will succeed Prof Karin Lochte, who has led the Institute for the past ten years and EU-PolarNet since 2015.

Prof Antje Boetius is no stranger to the Alfred Wegener Institute: in the context of her doctoral work, the deep-sea researcher (born in 1967) worked at the AWI in Bremerhaven from 1993 to 1996. Following a stay at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research in Warnemünde, she returned to Bremen in 1999, holding positions at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology, Jacobs University and the University of Bremen, where she is currently Vice-Director of the MARUM Centre for Marine Environmental Sciences. Since December 2008, Boetius has also led the Helmholtz / Max Planck Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology, which brings together researchers and engineers from the AWI and the MPI Bremen. Her primary research interests are life below the ice, and investigating material flows and biodiversity in the Earth's oceans. In the course of her work, she has joined in 40 expeditions at sea, many of which she led.

As a Leibniz Award winner, Boetius gained extensive science management experience in commissions and on the Senate of the German Research Foundation (DFG), as well as the Wissenschaftsrat (Council of Science and Humanities), the highest advisory body to Germany's federal and state governments. Thanks to these and other advisory duties, Boetius has established many links to the political world. As part of the Helmholtz Association, the Alfred Wegener Institute receives 90 percent of its funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. At the official ceremony, Prof Johanna Wanka, Federal Minister of Education and Research, states: "I'm very happy to say that, with Prof Antje Boetius, the Alfred Wegener Institute will have a new Director who has a consistent track record of combining focused strategic work with a genuine commitment to marine research."

In turn, Bremen's Senator for Education and Science, Prof Eva Quante-Brandt, is full of praise for the outgoing Director: "I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Karin Lochte, who, as a highly respected, nationally and internationally networked marine researcher, has done an excellent job of making the AWI shine. With Antje Boetius, once again a female researcher will take over the helm of the Alfred Wegener Institute. I'm especially happy to see that we have such outstanding role models for women and girls. As a Professor with the University of Bremen, Ms Boetius is a symbol of providing excellent education for tomorrow's oceanographers."

Otmar D. Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association, says: "I would like to thank Karin Lochte for the impressive dedication she has demonstrated over the past ten years, which helped her lead the AWI to international prominence. The close strategic collaboration within our 'Earth and Environment' Research Field is also largely due to her efforts." He adds: "I'm confident that we've found a worthy successor in Antje Boetius. She'll bring with her the same level of enthusiasm, while her transdisciplinary perspective will promote both collaboration within the Helmholtz Association and an active dialogue with society. I very much look forward to working with her."

Improving the interaction between the scientific community and society at large is one of the new AWI Director's proclaimed goals. In this regard, Antje Boetius can draw on her previous experience as Chair of the Steering Committee of Wissenschaft im Dialog (Science in Dialogue), an initiative for communicating research. She looks forward to helping the AWI's experts break new ground in cryospheric, oceanographic and coastal research. In addition, she plans to promote the use of new technologies and e.g. expand the use of robotic systems and automated sensor nets, which are already being used for environmental monitoring in coastal regions or under the ice of the Arctic.

According to Karin Lochte, intensifying its Arctic research is a representative example of how the AWI has expanded the scope of its activities over the past several years. Thanks to the rapid and dramatic changes at work in the region, the North Pole has increasingly become a "hotspot" in climate research, attracting more and more public interest. Whereas ten years ago, the AWI was largely maintaining its traditional focus on the Antarctic, she claims, the Institute is now actively pursuing research at both of the Earth's poles - a change in orientation that Lochte considers one of the greatest challenges during her term of office.

Karin Lochte (born in 1952) will remain active in the research community as a member of several international committees. Once her contract with the AWI runs out in 2018, the freshly baked retiree will also increasingly focus on her foundation for children from disadvantaged families.

Text: Folke Mehrtens, Alfred-Wegener-Institute,

We would like to thank Karin Lochte for her dedication to EU-PolarNet and warmly welcome Antje Boetius.


WOC and EU-PolarNet launch global survey to advance industry/science collaboration on polar data collection

If you are a member of the polar and ocean business community, we need your feedback!

The World Ocean Council (WOC) and EU-PolarNet are reaching out to the global polar and ocean business community to identify opportunities to collaborate on data collection in support of improved science and sustainable development.

To advance this collaboration, the polar and ocean business community from all over the world is invited to participate in the WOC/EU PolarNet SURVEY on vessels in polar regions. If you are part of the polar and ocean business community which includes shipping but also fishing, tourism, extractive industries (minerals, oil & gas) and other activities, whether or not you are in the EU, your input to this survey will be precious. We also invite you to spread the word if you know companies and industries in the Polar regions!

The present survey builds on the discussions on “Polar Region Sustainable Development: Business and Science Collaboration in the Arctic and Antarctic” at the recent WOC Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS). The survey also contributes to the WOC Smart Ocean-Smart Industries program, which is working to systematically scale up industry involvement in data collection worldwide.


Public consultation on European research objectives in polar research

The EU-PolarNet consortium has compiled a set of twelve overarching European research priorities for the Polar Regions, which have been identified based on national polar strategies, international consortia and major scientific clusters. Each topic includes several key-questions, which in turn are linked to the associated societal challenges.

EU-PolarNet would invites the wider research community and stakeholders to share their input to the compilation of research priorities and related societal challenges. In order to do so, an anonymous online consultation has been set up to help to identify, if the compilation is complete and if the societal relevance is well addressed.

For more information about the compilation and to participate in the public consultation, please go to the consultation page.project-themes/polar-research-for-science-and-society/public-consultation-on-research-priorities.html

The online consultation will be open until 9th March 2016.


Survey of the existing Polar Research Data Systems

Which polar research data systems and infrastructures exist in Europe? What are their standards and good practice baselines, which policies do they follow and which scope do they have? These are the questions EU-PolarNet members Serge Scory from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and Stefano Nativi from the Florence Institute of Atmospheric Pollution Research currently are getting to the bottom of.

To get the full picture of existing polar research data systems, they set up a survey, which is especially targeted towards managers of existing data management systems. With their help Serge Scory and Stefano Nativi hope to gain a complete overview of data management systems from all branch of sciences – from social sciences, to ecology, chemistry, etc.

The first survey round ends on 8th February 2016. Then the collected information will be analysed and presented to the European Commission and the international polar community. Nonetheless, the survey will remain open and incoming information continuously reviewed.

The objective of the resulting overview is to promote and improve open access and interoperability for the polar research domain, paving the way towards a coordinated European polar data infrastructure.

Click here for more information about the survey and to participate.


COP21 Paris Side Event

‘Climate Change in the Arctic – Local, Regional and Global Impacts’

Date: 5th December 2015, 14.30 – 16.00
Location: Room Brussels (European Union Pavilion, Hall 2B in the Blue Zone of Le Bourget - accreditation needed)

Joint Side Event hosted by ICE-ARC, EU-POLARNET and the EUROPEAN POLAR BOARD

This 90-minute European Commission Briefing Session, hosted by ICE-ARC, EU-PolarNet, and the European Polar Board, focusses on the increased prominence of Arctic issues for European politics, economics and society.
The Arctic has been described as a barometer for the health of the global environment; it is a region in a state of flux. Long-term temperature records have revealed that the Arctic has warmed more than other regions. This ‘Arctic amplification’ of global warming has led to major and quantifiable changes across the region from changing atmospheric circulation patterns and the melting of glaciers and ice sheets, through to the thawing of permafrost and the changing of the physical environment in, on, and above the Arctic Ocean.

Increased global focus on the Arctic brings significant regional opportunities and possibilities, such as new shipping routes, fisheries, and hydrocarbon extraction. But with this comes the potential for conflict and risks to human activities across the region and the globe, including potential impacts to economic sectors far from the Arctic region due to inbuilt feedbacks within the global climate system.


  • Peter Horvath, Directorate General for Research and Innovation, European Commission (BELGIUM)

  • Sir David King, FCO Special Representative for Climate Change (UK) – The Physical Basis of Arctic Change

  • Professor Jean-Claude Gascard, Senior Scientist, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (FRANCE) – Scenarios for Arctic change and Global Consequences

  • Anthony Hobley, Chief Executive, The Carbon Tracker (UK) – Economic Impact of Arctic change; regional and global contexts

  • Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Former Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and this year’s winner of the Right Livelihood Award (CANADA) – Societal Consequences of Arctic change; regional and global contexts

  • Thorben Hoffmeister, Executive Officer Geopolitics, Bundeswehr Geoinformation Center (ZGeoBw) – Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Arctic Change

AOS 2016 - Call for White Papers and Poster Abstracts

The upcoming 3rd Arctic Observing Summit, AOS 2016, will be held at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, March 15-18, 2016, in conjunction with Arctic Science Summit Week (March 12-15) and other side events such as the 2016 Arctic Council Senior Arctic Officials meeting (March 15-17), public lectures, an APECS event, and others. The organizers look forward to receiving community input in the form of AOS WHITE PAPER AND SHORT STATEMENT CONTRIBUTIONS (instructions available online). TPOSTER PRESENTATIONS and the call for abstracts is NOW OPEN. Deadlines for submission: Oct 18th, 2015.

Registration will be opening soon, with the choice of registering for one or both AOS and ASSW:

Based on recommendations from previous Summits, AOS 2016 will focus on the following themes. Please see detailed descriptions here.

  1. International and national strategies for sustained support of long-term Arctic observing
  2. Technology and innovation for sustained Arctic observations
  3. Contributions of the Private Sector and Industry to sustained Arctic observations
  4. Actor and Stakeholder engagement and needs in sustained Arctic observations
  5. Arctic Observations in the context of Global Observing initiatives
  6. Interfacing Traditional Knowledge, Community-based Monitoring and Scientific Methods for sustained Arctic observations

30 years of healing the ozone together

Today is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, which commemorates the date of the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. This year the day also marks the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, a multilateral environmental agreement, which was agreed upon at the Vienna Conference of 1985. In the last three decades, the Vienna Convention and its Montreal Protocol has prompted a total of 197 nations to work together on phasing out ozone-depleting substances - a vital contribution to protecting the ozone layer.

Watch a clip on ozone by the Ozone Secretariat, the Secretariat for the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and for the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.


What Can Arctic Stakeholders and Researchers Learn from Each Other?

EU-PolarNet and the European Polar Board will host a session at this year's Arctic Circle Assembly with the title "What Can Arctic Stakeholders and Researchers Learn from Each Other?". The session will take place on the 17th October 2015 from 5pm until 6.30pm in Reykjavik.


  • Andrea Tilche (Head of Climate Action and Earth Observation Unit, European Commission): EC statement on its role in Arctic research for society.
  • Nicole Biebow (Head of International CooperationUnit, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (Alfred Wegener Institute); Project Manager, EU-PolarNet): EU-PolarNet aimsand planned activities.

  • Adam Stepien (PhD Candidate, EU European Arctic Information Centre and Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland): Challenging, rewarding, disappointing and risky -consultations for assessments and policy-making: EUAIC experience.


  • Karin Lochte, Director, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research Alfred Wegener Institute.
  • Jeremy Wilkinson, Coordinator of ICE-ARC, British Antarctic Survey
  • Paul Holthus, CEO and President, World Ocean Council
  • Kirsi Latola, Director, UArctic Thematic Networks
  • Volker Rachold, Executive Secretary, International Arctic Science Committee

EU-PolarNet at "Our Common Future Under Climate Change"

EU-PolarNet will hold two sessions at "Our Common Future Under Climate Change", which takes place in Paris from 7th to 10th July 2015:

7th July – Session 1112: The Arctic Climate System
Denis-Didier Rousseau (CNRS) and Julienne Stroeve (University of Colorado)

8th July – Session 3327: Adapting to Arctic Climate Change
Kirsi Latola (University of Oulu), Key Note: Nicole Biebow (Alfred Wegener Institute). Read Kirsi's blog post on the session.

For more information about the conference visit the Our Common Future Under Climate Change website.


The EU and the Arctic

The European Commission is pleased to invite you to the third stakeholder workshop on the further development of the EU's Arctic policy that will take place on 24 June 2015 in Reykjavik, at the Fosshotel. It will bring together key stakeholders from business, academia and the public sector to discuss fishing, maritime safety, shipping and tourism in the Arctic. This event is part of a series of three workshops: the first one took place in Rovaniemi on 29 April and the second one in Oslo on 27 May. Please register here:


What next for EU Arctic Policy?

Brussels, 1-2 June 2015. The European External Action and the European Commission services invited Arctic stakeholders to gather views and recommendations on the further development of EU Arctic Policy. Project manager Nicole Biebow attended the conference and presented EU-PolarNet. Watch her talk (Session 1) and the other presentations via the webstream.


EU-PolarNet is now on Twitter

Follow us @EUPolarNet


Nominations are Open!

Nominations are open for External Expert Advisory Board (EEAB) members for EU-PolarNet.

EU-PolarNet is looking for a panel of internationally renowned experts with a balance of Arctic and Antarctic interests.  The board will advise the EU-PolarNet consortium on questions relating to policy developments, implementation of the Transatlantic Research Alliance and co-operation with third countires.

Further details and the application form can be found here.


EU-PolarNet at the Galway Conference

Project Coordinator Prof Karin Lochte from the German Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, presented EU-PolarNet at the Galway Conference "The Atlantic – Our Shared Resource: Making the vision reality" in Brussels on 16th April 2015.


Project Start

The EU-PolarNet project officially started on the 1st March 2015. We have much to do, and the first activities will be:

  • The Kick-Off meeting - hosted by AWI in Bremerhaven on the 9th-11th March;
  • Creation of a logo, branding, briefing flyers and banner stands;
  • Set-up of this website.

Further events and updates will be posted here in due course.

Watch this space!