About the project

 

1. Research aim
Polar areas and remote parts of mountain chains are among the last regions on the Earth, where the morphogenetic system is functioning within a primary state of the natural environment, undergoing very limited human generated influences. Simultaneously, because of a narrow range of environmental factors changeability, they are a perfect research testing grounds for the observations of global, regional and local relationships of epigeosphere components interactions in cryogenic conditions. Based on systematic observations performed in the Arctic (Spitsbergen, Svalbard), the research will focus on the problem of cryosphere state and contemporary processes of its transformation course diagnosis, considering different characteristics of water circulation and its storage (glacierized, i.e. partly glaciers covered, and non-glacierized might have been glaciated in the past but currently holding no glacier ice) in conditions of uneven in time and space permafrost distribution. Particularly this research will concentrate on the identification of mechanisms governing energy exchange between atmosphere, terrestrial glacier cover and frozen ground with seasonally active, during months with positive air temperature and energy supply, active surface layer. There are two main intended project aims: a) to determine seasonal changeability of the structure and dynamics of the permafrost active layer and the temperature distribution in deeper, permanently frozen substratum in diverse variants of high Arctic climate; b) to compare the balance state and reactions on climate change of two small (2-3 km2 of ice coverage area) valley glaciers located within regions of contrasting climatic conditions of Spitsbergen in relation to other cryosphere components.

2. Methods
Fieldworks will be performed based on pre-selected testing grounds, located in areas of contrasting climatic characteristics (amount and structure of precipitation, air humidity, annual air temperature amplitude), however, located in the close distance one from another, almost at the same parallel. In the vicinity of polar stations (Kaffioyra and Petuniabukta), with already existing long-term observational series, for the first time year-round observations, based on the data-loggers network including standard test field equipment in the range of meteorological, glaciological, hydrological, permafrost surface and deeper layer research will be realized for the first time in proposed locations (with a generally little amount of such observations in this part of the Arctic). This investigations are joining the measurement network and realization of programs initiated in the frame of agreements of the International Polar Year Coordinating Committee and long-term monitoring projects, like Circumarctic Active Layer Monitoring CALM, Ground Temperature Monitoring Network GTN-P, Dynamics and mass balance of Arctic glaciers and ice sheets GLACIODYN, realizing elements of broad activities, based on scientific techniques raised and dedicated to this studies, guaranteeing serious synthetic elaboration of over-regional character.

3. Impact summary
The obtained results will allow for the first time for the standardized, carried out with a unified methodology and techniques applied to compare the cryosphere state and components variability in the high Arctic in relation to other natural environment elements, within the changeability related to the influences of extremely different conditions, observed in the neighborhood of Spitsbergen western cost and the inner-fjord location, isolated from open ocean influences. The cryosphere is among indicators the best imaging negative influences, throughout symptoms of its degradation both in non-biotic (e.g. increased denudational processes, more often above-average intensity phenomena) and biotic (habitat changes, CO2 release) components. The outcomes will serve the modelling of cryosphere phenomena changes in the approaching decades, that will also be possible to be spread over other areas, also more densely inhabited. The setting of the collaboration within various locations in Svalbard will constitute the organization of broader observatory network, to which other Polish stations (Hornsund, Belsund) and foreign stations (Longyearbyen, Barentsburg), as well as other spots, established by international teams (even in such remote places like Edgoya or Nordaustlandet), might be linked to construct latitudinal and meridional transects, describing and quantifying changes in high Arctic cryosphere.