Polar and Marine research are central themes of Global system and Environmental Science. The Alfred Wegener Institute conducts research in the Arctic, the Antarctic and at temperate latitudes. It coordinates Polar research in Germany and provides both the necessary equipment and the essential logistic back up for polar expeditions. Recent additional research themes include North Sea Research, contributions to Marine Biological Monitoring, Marine Pollution Research, Investigation of naturally occuring marine substances and technical marine developments.
The Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) was established as a public foundation in 1980. It includes the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, the AWI in Potsdam (1992), the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland and the AWI in List/Sylt. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres; the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) covers 90% of financing, the state of Bremen 8% and the states of Brandenburg and Schleswig-Holstein provide 1% each. The AWI employs over 900 staff and has a total budget of more than 100 million Euro in 2012.