The head of the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association, Prof. Dr. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, is the new president of the International Permafrost Association IPA. His appointment took place at the 9th International Conference on Permafrost in Fairbanks, Alaska. Prof. Hubberten will lead the International Permafrost Association for the next four years. During his term in office he will coordinate, among other things, the analysis of the scientific results of the International Polar Year.
“In these times of global warming, research on permafrost gains in importance”, explains Hubberten. Permanently frozen areas of the polar region and higher latitudes, which make up about 25% of the earth's surface, are called permafrost. “We have to expect dramatic changes to the ecosystem and the infrastructure of the respective region in the case of the thawing of the permafrost soils”, continues the researcher from Potsdam. Heavy soil erosions of the coastal regions as well as the release of huge amounts of carbon, greenhouse gases and freshwater, frozen in the extensive permafrost regions of Siberia and North America, could affect global water and carbon cycles.
“The appointment as president of the IPA is a special honour”, says the delighted Prof. Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, “but it appreciates in particular the outstanding results which our team has produced for the research on permafrost during the last years.” Potsdam's researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute examine among other things the effects of soil erosion, emission of greenhouse gases in tundra regions, material and energy flow in the permafrost as well as the climate and environmental history of Siberian permafrost regions.
Prof. Hubberten was appointed head of the Research Unit Potsdam of the Alfred Wegener Institute in 1992, and he built up a permafrost research team which is today held in internationally high esteem. He participated in more than 20 expeditions into the Arctic and Antarctic and contributed with his research papers to a better understanding of the processes in permafrost soils and in marine gas hydrates. Hubberten is the first IPA president ever elected from a country not bordering on the Arctic.
The IPA was founded in 1983 with the aim to spread knowledge on permafrost and to support the cooperation between researchers as well as national and international organisations working on permafrost. The IPA is governed by an executive committee and a scientific council and representatives from the 28 member states.
The Alfred Wegener Institute carries out research in the Arctic and Antarctic as well as in the high and mid latitude oceans. The institute coordinates German polar research and makes available to international science important infrastructure, e.g. the research ice breaker “Polarstern” and research stations in the Arctic and Antarctic. AWI is one of 15 research centres within the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, Germany’s largest scientific organization.
Alfred-Wegener-Institut für Polar- und Meeresforschung
in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft
Institute for Polar and Marine Research
Postfach 12 01 61, 27515 Bremerhaven/Germany
Tel. ++49 471 4831-2008, Fax ++49 471 4831-1389
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Monday, 28 July 2008 16:45
Prof. Dr. Hubberten appointed president of the International Permafrost Association (IPA)Written by Louise Huffman
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