The Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) is a member of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) and funded by federal and state government. AWI focuses on polar and marine research in a variety of disciplines such as biology, oceanography, geology, geochemistry and geophysics thus allowing multidisciplinary approaches to scientific goals.

Master thesis: Deposition of Microplastics by snow in the Arctic

Microplastics (MP) are ubiquitous and considerable quantities can even be detected in the Arctic. However, until now, large knowledge gaps prevail regarding the pathways of MP to the high North. One pathway could be water currents, the other, which we already exemplarily addressed in a recent study, could be atmospheric transport. Hence, it is most likely, that the atmosphere plays a substantial role in the transport of MP also to higher latitudes. With respect to that, the analysis of wet deposition of MP by snow can be seen as a perfect approach since it is well known, that at lower temperatures, snow displays an extremely high scavenging potential for aerosols.

Where: Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, division "Biosciences", sections Shelf Seas Systems Ecology in Helgoland

In the herein poposed Master thesis, snow samples will be analyzed, taken in the framework of the MOSAiC expedition (in cooperation with the WLS Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SL). To assess the whole possible size range of particles, the samples will be sequentially analysed by FTIR- and Raman-microscopy.
All data will be finally linked to meteorological data recorded during MOSAiC. Backtracking trajectories will be calculated by using HYSPLIT trajectory models to assign possible source regions.

We are looking for a Master student in chemisty, environmental- or atmospheric sciences.

Further Information
The place of employment will be Helgoland.

Start: spring 2021

You are interested?
Then please send us your application with Cover letter and CV (with all documents merged into one PDF file) by e-mail to: Dr. Gunnar Gerdts ( or Dr. Christoph Ritter (

For further information please contact Dr. Gunnar Gerdts (, +49(4725)819-3245).