Popularization of science


Now-a-days great attention is paid to the so called „global changes”, within which the most emotional and propagated by media are the climate changes. The only way to really determine the character and intensity of these phenomena is to perform scientific research and in objective way to distribute their results within the society. Polar regions are among the last in the world, where it is possible to delimit between these elements of the natural environment that are not under the pressure of human impact, from these influenced by increase of pollution, greenhouse gasses emission or direct impact of rising from year to year touristic activity. To estimate the answer to some of questions concerning the state and future of our surroundings, there were undertaken researches in the project “Cryosphere reactions in contrasting high Arctic conditions of Svalbard in changing environment”. Svalbard archipelago, with its biggest island Spitsbergen, is the territory with one of the most northern locations in European Arctic, where direct influences of human impact connected with development of industry, agriculture, mass communication, settlement etc. are not extending. The conditions of this region are still very close to natural.
Investigations conducted in such area led, with almost laboratory precision, to determine the character of processes existing in the nature, the rate of ongoing changes and to predict effects of their influences. Because of its circumpolar location, the features of Svalbard environment are determined mainly by the existence of low air temperatures, implying the presence of ice in different forms, from the atmosphere to the lithosphere, there they are commonly called a cryosphere. Such an environment, both in abiotic and biotic parts, is very sensible to ongoing changes, therefore, it can be a perfect field to follow them. In the undertaken research, it was moreover assumed, the possibility to compare the conditions existing on differentiated, in terms of annual course of temperature and precipitation, influencing such elements of cryosphere as glaciers and permafrost, and connected to them: processes shaping the earth surface, plant and animal communities as well as human activity (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruñ Polar Station KAFFIOYRA, western coast of Spitsbergen and Adam Mickiewicz University Polar Station PETUNIABUKTA, central part of Spitsbergen island).
Particular attention is needed to be paid on the used scientific approach, concerning constant monitoring of natural processes in the study areas and activities leading to their unification, helping to write conclusions of more universal character. In the idea of project creators it was to establish standards, that could be implemented to wider use, at least on the national level, in the network of Polish institutions working in polar regions. As the most important results of the project it is worth to underline the acquisition of three years long data series, documenting changes in the condition of glaciers and permafrost on not very distant in space, but differing in terms of physical-geographical conditions areas. Moreover, with the use of spatial data analysis acquired from satellite images, the very distinct trend of warming was registered all over Svalbard, affecting biotic communities, but primarily cryospheric elements, triggering very often further consequences like changes in relations between particular environmental factors, as it is called in nomenclature of presented here science branch, the reconstruction of geoecosystem structure. From the point of view of analyses accuracy and validation of proposed prognoses, it is very important to keep ongoing permanent observation points and research stations, in which it will be more often possible to replace human work (in harsh environmental conditions) with the highly autonomous equipment and with long time of observations.

As part of the presentation of the results obtained on the basis of research carried out in the project, participation was participated in a number of foreign and domestic conferences, of high rank in the field of polar and cryospheric research. Altogether, 18 presentations were presented, including 8 in the form of papers and 10 in the form of posters. In the case of two conferences (Polar Symposium in Wroc³aw and Polar Symposium in Lublin), Grzegorz Rachlewicz and Ireneusz Sobota were members of scientific committees. At the Congress of International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics in Prague in 2015, Grzegorz Rachlewicz performed as Poland's national delegate to the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (one of the IUGG organizations). At the permafrost seminars in Portugal (2014) and Germany (2016), Grzegorz Rachlewicz and Krzysztof Rymer participated in the work of the Global Terrestrial Network-Permafrost team (as national delegates), as part of which the results of permafrost monitoring research are presented as well as standards for analysis and publication of research results regarding the permafrost thermals and dynamics of the active layer. At the conference in Brno, Grzegorz Rachlewicz delivered a commissioned lecture on the results of research related to the transfer of matter in the polar catchments, in which the results of the research obtained in the project were presented. Participation in conferences, primarily foreign ones, contributed to the broad access to the results of research in the scientific community and establishing contacts aimed at jointly applying for European projects. Such cooperation has already been established with the Center of Polar Ecology in Èeské Budìjovice and with the Norwegian Geological Institute. The result of the project and the promotion of its achievements at national conferences is the tightening of cooperation between our two units within the Polish Polar Consortium, the creation of databases and research teams (mainly with the University of Wroclaw, UMCS in Lublin and the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics PAS).
Promotional activities include anniversary seminars of polar research at UAM and UMK, radio and television interviews, films posted on the Internet, visits to schools, popular science festivals, and nights of scientists. It was announced that the stations received state flags from the President of the Republic of Poland.
Printed books of popular-scientific and memoir (album) type have been published, where work on polar stations is discussed, as well as the principles of conducting research, including monitoring, associated with the implemented project. As part of the anniversary of the station, photo exhibitions were presented.
The polar data base of the Polish Polar Consortium (Katowice) is being prepared - creating a metadata database. Data is sent to the Global Terrestrial Network database - Permafrost (Potsdam). Data on the Waldemar glacier mass balance can be found at World Glaciers Monitoring Service (Zurich).