Ambassador for the Year of Science
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The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)
From the North Pole to the South Pole, from shallow coastal waters to the depths of the ocean: the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research has been studying the correlations between the global climate and the unique ecosystems in the ocean and on land for more than 25 years. The icy worlds of the Arctic and Antarctic are two of the main focal points of the Institute's research. The goal of research work at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research is to decipher changes in the global environment and the Earth's system, which have been caused in part by natural phenomena and in part by human beings.
The AWI, which is part of the Helmholtz Association, has collaborated effectively for many years with various research institutes and universities in South Africa either in contractual scientific-technical and logistical partnerships or through joint research work.
The AWI and the South African National Antarctic Research Programme (SANARP) have mutually supported one another for many decades in servicing, maintaining and staffing the research stations of these two countries in the Antarctic.
AWI scientists have worked closely together with South African colleagues from various research facilities for many years. One highlight of this collaboration is a seal project on Marion Island between the Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria and the AWI, which has run for more than 25 years and is the most important long-term study of seals in the southern Ocean due to its continuity.
Comparative geological studies on the development of the ocean plateau in the South African area of the Indian Ocean are carried out with colleagues at the University of Durban. These and other activities on the development history of the Earth in South Africa are part of the long-standing German-South African programme, Inkaba ye Afrika, and the Africa Earth Observatory Network (AEON).
Cooperation between the AWI and South Africa could also include supporting training and education of students and the next generation of scientists from South Africa in the future, to effectively encourage the development of their expertise and capacity in the areas of polar and marine research. One possible component could be, for example projects or courses on the Polarstern research ship on the trip to (or from) the Antarctic.