EUMETSAT, the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD, the German meteorological service) and the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) have teamed up to make this possible.

Dr Oliver Sievers of the DWD is a forecaster specialising in sea-surface and wave models and ship-route forecasts who will blog for us from aboard the AWI’s Polarstern on her 30-day voyage from Punta Arenas, Chile, to Bremerhaven, Germany, from 21 March.

Dr Sievers will share his impressions of life on board the Polarstern and how important accurate weather forecasts are for those on the ship. Also on board will be a weather forecaster and a technician.

Sharing impressions

“I will keep very close to them to see and describe how the weather forecasting is done, how the weather observations are done and what are the tasks for the people on board,” Dr Sievers said.

Dr. Oliver Sievers

“This is a very new thing for me. Living on board a ship will be new for me.

“I’m looking forward to meeting many interesting people and I hope that we can have a lot of interesting chats about science on board.

Living on board a ship will be new for me

“I’m also looking forward to getting many new impressions. I’m going to a part of the world that I don’t know yet but, of course, it will be hard to be separated from my family for such a long time.”

Plain sailing? No thanks!

One of Dr Sievers’ hopes for this trip probably wouldn’t be shared by many people about to embark on a five-week sea voyage.

“I hope we don’t have five weeks of all good weather,” he said. “Then all I would have is images of blue skies and flat seas. That would be boring.

“I am really curious about what is going to happen.”

“On-site” training

Satellite data and imagery play a particularly important role in helping to provide accurate weather forecasts for seafarers because other types of observations are unavailable.

Dr Sievers’ impressions and experiences on the voyage will be used for training meteorologists and scientists.

“Accurate weather forecasts for ship routing are very important for maritime safety,” Dr Sievers said. “It’s very important to train forecasters on maritime forecasts.

“Normally, the training is on a theoretical basis, sitting in a classroom or in front of a computer, listening to the teacher. I think training is much more intensive if you have practical, on-site training.

“I hope to be able to inspire people about how important weather is on the sea and that they are fascinated by the atmosphere at sea.”

Read about it here

You can read all of Dr Sievers blog articles below, ordered by date.

The last leg of the Polarstern’s journey

The students following the Polarstern have provided us with one final report on what the vessel encountered on the way to its final destination: Cape Town.


Thar she blows – Polarstern blog number five

Blog number five has landed and this week the hot topic is… wind!


Getting to know the weather a little better with the Polarstern

It’s week four of the Polarstern’s voyage and you know what that means – a brand-new blog post from the students following its path.


An update on the Polarstern’s progress

It’s the second week aboard the Polarstern and the third blog post recording the adventure!

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The Polarstern logbook

Week two from the Polarstern logbook – students from group FH38 describe what can be found on-board the vessel and what they witnessed during the first days of their virtual mission to Cape Town from Bremerhaven.


Going on a virtual journey with the Polarstern

The research vessel, Polarstern, is currently travelling from Germany to Cape Town and a group of German meteorology students are reporting on its progress with weekly blog posts.


RV Polarstern, 19 April 2017

Meteorological measurements and observations at sea – a challenge by Volker Heil, DWD


RV Polarstern, 13 April 2017

Forecasting waves and wave height


RV Polarstern, near the Canary Islands, 11 April 2017

The scatterometer explained


About the Polarstern

The Polarstern is one of the world’s most advanced polar research ships and is the flagship of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research.

Each year, she covers the equivalent of two trips around the Equator but normally spends from November to March in the Antarctic and the northern summer in the Arctic on research missions.

The Polarstern boasts nine scientific labs and can accommodate a crew of up to 44, as well as up to 55 researchers.

© S. Druecker

About Punta Arenas

Dr Sievers’ trip takes him to two very different cities which share a common feature – their importance to seafaring.

Punta Arenas is the southernmost continental city in the world, with a population of about 110,000.

Just north of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas is a major gateway to the Antarctic and an important port for tourism, fishing, scientific researchers and the transportation of goods.

A very windy city, Punta Arenas has a subpolar oceanic climate.

About Bremerhaven

Bremerhaven is located at the mouth of the Weser River and is the fourth-largest port in Europe.

The city has a population of about 108,000 people. With a temperate maritime climate, Bremerhaven receives, on average, almost twice as much rain each year (742mm) as Punta Arenas.

In addition to its crucial trading role, Bremerhaven hosts a sailing convention every five years, attracting tall ships from all over the world. More than 270 vessels took part in the most recent Sail Bremerhaven event in 2015.

Feature Image: Polarstern / Credit: Stefanie Arndt, AWI
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Posted by Ruth Evans

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