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Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar
and Marine Research, Bremerhaven

Professors in Bremen:
Dirk Olbers since 1985
Peter Lemke since 2001
Gerrit Lohmann since 2004


Head of Department of Climate systems:
Prof. Dr. D. Olbers
Secretary: C. Schwake
Fon: +49(0)471-4831-1760
Fax: +49(0)471-4831-1149
Email: awi-pr@awi-bremerhaven.de
Homepage: http://www.awi-bremerhaven.de

The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research is a foundation whose branches at Bremerhaven, Potsdam, Helgoland and List on the island of Sylt are engaged in close co-operation with the respective neighbouring universities. The professors at the Department of Climate Systems at Bremerhaven co-ordinate their research and teaching with the Faculty of Physics and Electrical Engineering at the University of Bremen.

Department of Climate Systems

The Department of Climate Systems is one of four departments at the AWI. With a strong physical orientation, it entertains extensive research programmes in observation, modelling, and theory, aimed at exploring the nature of physical and chemical processes in the system atmosphere- cryosphere- hydrosphere which are relevant for shaping the earth's climate. The goal is to detect scenarios and develop prediction schemes for the global climate.

The department employs about 100 scientists. It has a number of major research facilities at its disposal such as the research icebreaker Polarstern; two special aircraft units; research stations in the Antarctic and the Arctic (Spitzbergen) with meteorological and atmosphere-chemical observatories; an extensive computer network including several supercomputers. The AWI participates in the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ) in Hamburg.

Research projects

Currently the basic research activities are focused on the exploration and modelling of oceanic circulation systems in the northern polar region and the Weddell Sea; on the effect of clouds and surface ice on the energy exchange between ocean and atmosphere; on the causes of the natural climate variability in the time range of decades; on the long-term variability of the global thermohaline circulation; on the climatic effects of aerosols, ozone, and other atmospheric contaminants; on the modelling of atmospheric circulation over the polar regions and, more generally, on the role of the polar regions for the earth's climate.
One recent focus is on paleoclimate modelling. In attempting to account for long-term paleoclimate variations, we are led to broaden our view of the climate system and to restructure our approach to a fuller theory of climate.


Our scientists use a large variety of measuring techniques to study the multitude of important elementary processes in the polar climate as well as its long-term variations. We run models of different degrees of complexity in order to study, on the one hand, isolated single processes in detail, and on the other, simulations of the entire system. The aim is to come to a synthesis of observational data and theoretical concepts. The most advanced models to date involve a coupling of ocean circulation, surface ice dynamics, and the atmosphere above the polar caps. In attempting to account for long-term paleoclimate variations, numerical models of the Earth system and statistical analysis of instrumental and proxy data are applied.

Research facilities and station of AWI
Research aircraft Polar 2: At low temperatures the engines have to be pre-heated. The cable in the foreground connects Polar 2 with the ground power and supplies electricity.
Research station Neumayer, Antarctica

Institute of Environmental Physics

Professors in the Institute:
Klaus F. Künzi 1988-2004
John Philip Burrows since 1992
Jörn Bleck-Neuhaus since 1999
(Professor in Bremen since 1973)
Monika Rhein since 2000
Justus Notholt since 2002


Fon: ++49 (0)421 218 -4065/ -4653
Fon: ++49 (0)421 218 -4555
Email: iup@iup.physik.uni-bremen.de
Homepage: http://www.iup.physik.uni-bremen.de

For M.Sc. and Certificate:
Email: pep@uni-bremen.de
Homepage: http://www.pep.uni-bremen.de

The Institute of Environmental Physics (IUP) was established in 1993. Our research goal is to understand the system Earth, to determine the physical and chemical processes defining its nature and behaviour. We use satellites and earth bound platforms to study the atmosphere, the oceans, the cryosphere and the land surface. The Institute of Remote Sensing (IFE) is an integral part of the IUP, focusing on space projects with long-term perspectives. Also, the `Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring Lab' is part of the IUP.


Environmental physics is one of the topics students may choose for the final years of their studies (Diplom), after completion of their basic education in physics. The courses offered in environmental physics are part of a collaborative effort by the IUP and our colleagues at the Department of Climate Systems of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) in Bremerhaven.
Our courses in environmental physics provide students with the basics and specific knowledge required to work in many different and active research areas of physics. Moreover, this general approach is also a modern and flexible alternative to the traditional education in meteorology or oceanography as offered by other universities. Particular attention is given to digital image processing.

In recognition of the development of environmental physics as a major subject in its own right, and also to facilitate the ready integration of foreign students, an international Postgraduate Programme in Environmental Physics (PEP) was established in 2000, leading either, within two years, to a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree or, after one year, to the Certificate in Environmental Physics. The lectures are given in English (more on the PIP pages).

Our projects are conducted in close collaboration with national and international partner institutions. This provides our students with many interesting opportunities to start a career in science, management at national and international agencies, or in industry.


The Institute comprises more than 100 scientists. All research groups have access to excellent research facilities in the laboratory and are well equipped with computers ranging from PCs to a Cray. The experimental facilities in the laboratory include advanced equipment utilising gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, optical, infrared and microwave spectroscopy, and all types of radioactivity measurements.
Many of our activities require external research platforms such as the research icebreaker Polarstern operated by AWI, aircraft and a research station in the Arctic, as well as satellites.

Worldwide research programmes by the IUP (click to visit)