Articles | Volume 9, issue 1
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 211–220, 2017
Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 9, 211–220, 2017

Review article 21 Mar 2017

Review article | 21 Mar 2017

From pole to pole: 33 years of physical oceanography onboard R/V Polarstern

Amelie Driemel1, Eberhard Fahrbach1,†, Gerd Rohardt1, Agnieszka Beszczynska-Möller2, Antje Boetius1, Gereon Budéus1, Boris Cisewski4, Ralph Engbrodt3, Steffen Gauger3, Walter Geibert1, Patrizia Geprägs5, Dieter Gerdes1, Rainer Gersonde1, Arnold L. Gordon6, Hannes Grobe1, Hartmut H. Hellmer1, Enrique Isla7, Stanley S. Jacobs6, Markus Janout1, Wilfried Jokat1, Michael Klages8, Gerhard Kuhn1, Jens Meincke9,*, Sven Ober10, Svein Østerhus11, Ray G. Peterson12,†, Benjamin Rabe1, Bert Rudels13, Ursula Schauer1, Michael Schröder1, Stefanie Schumacher1, Rainer Sieger1, Jüri Sildam14, Thomas Soltwedel1, Elena Stangeew3, Manfred Stein4,*, Volker H Strass1, Jörn Thiede1,*, Sandra Tippenhauer1, Cornelis Veth10,*, Wilken-Jon von Appen1, Marie-France Weirig3, Andreas Wisotzki1, Dieter A. Wolf-Gladrow1, and Torsten Kanzow1 Amelie Driemel et al.
  • 1Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Bremerhaven, Germany
  • 2Institute of Oceanography Polish Academy of Science, Sopot, Poland
  • 3independent researcher
  • 4Thünen-Institut: Seefischerei, Hamburg, Germany
  • 5MARUM – Zentrum für Marine Umweltwissenschaften, Bremen, Germany
  • 6Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
  • 7Institute of Marine Sciences-CSIC, Barcelona, Spain
  • 8University of Gothenburg, Department of Marine Sciences, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 9Institut für Meereskunde, Hamburg, Germany
  • 10Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, 't Horntje, the Netherlands
  • 11Uni Research Climate, Bergen, Norway
  • 12Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, USA
  • 13University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 14Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation, La Spezia, Italy
  • *retired
  • deceased

Abstract. Measuring temperature and salinity profiles in the world's oceans is crucial to understanding ocean dynamics and its influence on the heat budget, the water cycle, the marine environment and on our climate. Since 1983 the German research vessel and icebreaker Polarstern has been the platform of numerous CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth instrument) deployments in the Arctic and the Antarctic. We report on a unique data collection spanning 33 years of polar CTD data. In total 131 data sets (1 data set per cruise leg) containing data from 10 063 CTD casts are now freely available at doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.860066. During this long period five CTD types with different characteristics and accuracies have been used. Therefore the instruments and processing procedures (sensor calibration, data validation, etc.) are described in detail. This compilation is special not only with regard to the quantity but also the quality of the data – the latter indicated for each data set using defined quality codes. The complete data collection includes a number of repeated sections for which the quality code can be used to investigate and evaluate long-term changes. Beginning with 2010, the salinity measurements presented here are of the highest quality possible in this field owing to the introduction of the OPTIMARE Precision Salinometer.

Short summary
Our oceans are always in motion – huge water masses are circulated by winds and by global seawater density gradients resulting from different water temperatures and salinities. Measuring temperature and salinity of the world's oceans is crucial e.g. to understand our climate. Since 1983, the research icebreaker Polarstern has been the basis of numerous water profile measurements in the Arctic and the Antarctic. We report on a unique collection of 33 years of polar salinity and temperature data.