DFG funds new research vessel

Maria S. Merian to set sail for first research expedition on 16 February

The new research vessel Maria S. Merian, which entered service today, is docked at the Baltic Sea Research Institute Warnemünde. It will be leaving for its first research expedition in the Baltic Sea on 16 February. It will be carrying out biogeochemical investigations in the central and northern basin regions of the Baltic Sea, in particular to provide information about the dynamics of oxygen depletion in the deep waters of the central Baltic Sea basin and the function of the northern Baltic Sea as a transfer area for terrestrially introduced compounds. Twenty researchers from the Baltic Sea Research Institute Warnemünde, and the universities of Plymouth/United Kingdom, Stockholm/Sweden, Umea/Sweden and Helsinki/Finland will be participating in this first expedition.

The expedition schedule for the new research vessel over 2006 is tight; the researchers will travel the Gulf of Cadiz, the North Atlantic, the Norwegian Sea and East Greenland, among other destinations. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has been funding the new research vessel since 2003 as a central research facility. The Maria S. Merian is the second research vessel to be funded by the DFG, together with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, as part of this funding instrument. The Meteor was the first. The DFG covers 70% of the operating costs of approximately € 5-6 million per year, and the ministry funds the remaining 30%. In addition, the DFG provides a further € 1.5 million annually for expedition costs as part of the "Implementation of METEOR and MERIAN Expeditions" Priority Programme.

Through its funding of research vessels as central research facilities, the DFG ensures a fair distribution of "ship time" resources according to scientific performance criteria. In the same way as the Meteor, the new ship Maria S. Merian will be available to all German oceanographers and their international partners according to generally accepted rules. The DFG Senate Commission on Oceanography pointed to the necessity of renewing the medium-sized ships of the German research fleet in its 1999 memorandum "Oceanography for the Next Decade". The Maria S. Merian, which is capable of navigating the edges of the polar ice cap, replaces the Alexander von Humboldt, which retired at the end of 2004, and the previously decommissioned research vessels Valdivia and Victor Hensen.

The scientific institutions using the new research vessel include not only the DFG's North Atlantic Collaborative Research Centres in Hamburg and Kiel, the DFG Ocean Margins Research Centre in Bremen and the Baltic Sea Research Institute Warnemünde, but also many other interdisciplinary research teams from all over Germany.

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Further information is available from Dr. Susanne Faulhaber Physics, Mathematics and Geosciences Division, Tel.: +49 (0)228/885-2363, email: susanne.faulhaber@dfg.de.


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