Breakthrough in Arctic deep-sea research: The R/V Polarstern Expedition 1987


  • Polarstern Shipboard Scientific Party


During summer 1987, the R/V Polarstern of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Bremerhaven, Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), succeeded in penetrating the eastern Arctic ice pack as far north as the Nansen-Gakkel Ridge in the central eastern Arctic Basin. Our northernmost location, at 86°H′N (Figure 1), was further north than any surface vessel dedicated to marine research has attained previously, although Soviet nuclear-powered ice breakers have managed to penetrate to the North Pole. Prior to this cruise, most knowledge about the eastern Arctic Basin came from remote sensing techniques, Nansen's Fram expedition during 1893–1896 [Bøggild, 1906; Gran, 1904; Nansen, 1902, 1904, 1906], Russian ice camps [Gordienko and Laktionov, 1969], the U.S. ice island camps Fram I-Fram IV, 1979–1982 [Hunkins et al, 1979; Baggeroer and Dyer, 1982; Manley et al, 1982; Kristoffersen, 1982; Kristoffersen et al, 1982; Kristoffersen and Husebye, 1985], and explorations by submarines.