Scientific aim of the project
Polar areas are perfect research testing grounds to observe interactions of global, regional and local interrelations of epigeosphere components in cryogenic conditions. Based on systematic observations the research will focus on the problem of the cryosphere state and contemporary processes course diagnosis, considering different characteristics of water circulation and storage in conditions of uneven in time and space permafrost distribution. Particularly research will concentrate on the identification of mechanisms governing energy exchange between atmosphere, terrestrial glacier cover and frozen ground with seasonally active surface layer.
The intended project aims are twofold: a) to determine seasonal variations of thermal structure and dynamics of permafrost active layer, and temperature distribution in deeper, permanently frozen substratum in diverse variants of high Arctic climate; b) to compare balance state and reactions on climate changes of two small valley glaciers located in areas of contrasting climatic conditions of Spitsbergen in relation to other cryosphere components.

Significance of the project
The Arctic is considered among other regions the most susceptible to the global climate change. According to IPCC (2007) models, this region is likely to warm up faster than the global average. Particularly sensitive are regions within the inner Arctic, where warm and cold air and water masses meet, for instance in Svalbard. The surface temperature increase is viewed as the main reason for the world-wide glaciers retreat (Oerlemans 2007), generating ice-free areas suitable for occupation by biota (e.g. Goetz et al. 2005, Smol et al. 2005), as well as severe consequences for the permafrost on regional and global scales (e.g. Humlum et al. 2003, Zamolodchikov et al. 2004).
The results obtained within the project will allow, for the first time, according to unified research techniques applied, to compare the cryosphere state and components variability in the high Arctic in relations to other natural environment elements, within the changeability related to the influences of extremely different conditions, observed in the neighborhood of Spitsbergen western cost (Kaffioyra) and the inner-fjord location, isolated from open ocean influences (Petuniabukta).
The cryosphere is among indicators the best imaging negative influences, throughout symptoms of its degradation both in non-biotic (e.g. increased denudational processes) 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.

Existing knowledge state in the scope of research subject with references
The climate influences the state and changeability of many Earth system components. Looking for linkages between them is very often difficult and blurred because of various interactions, feedbacks and range of possible fluctuations. In this terms polar regions, with its simplicity and limited amount of elements (e.g. Elvebakk 1994), are perfect research testing grounds for environmental studies applying the ergodic rule of exploiting the spatial structure as the surrogate of time, for the detailed determination of the development of cryospheric system elements and structures, as well as for forecasting future changes and their consequences. Weathering, erosion, transport and sedimentation are all parts subjected in cold regions the impact of presence of the ice and low temperatures, moreover, their raises, in sensitive boundary areas, frequently to positive values. In general, all the processes are well known, however their rates are not, particularly under changing climate. The long-term record that is based on proxies derived from natural and human archives (e.g. Bond et al. 1997, MacDonald et al. 2000, Smittenberg et al. 2004, Grinsted et al. 2006) needs contemporary observations in order to understand the variability of factors involved in the past events, in increasing the resolution of paleorecords and to propose new models of their interpretation (Hegerl 1998).
Elementary processes functioning in the polar realm (as denudation, water circulation, glaciers activity, sediments flow) and the state of the cryosphere find their individual description (e.g. Elverhoi et al. 1983, Kostrzewski et al. 1989, Hambrey et al. 1999, Hodson et al. 2000, Heginbottom 2002, Anderson 2005). However, more advanced studies integrating glacial and periglacial phenomena, on the base of same methods, applied to various spatial situations, differing with the range of environmental impacts, have not been undertaken. Polish scientific centers are among sparse that started to aggregate previously collected materials, but until now in a broader sense it was limited to meteorological observations (Przybylak et al. 2006, 2007) and plans to operate the national polar network in environmental studies (International Polar Year project proposition: Arctic and Antarctic Denudation System under climatic changes and human impact).
Past decades gives hundreds of facts showing very fast changes in polar environment (e.g. Mercier & Laffly 2005, Barry 2006, Rachlewicz et al. 2007). The character of this changes is in almost all cases progressive and definitive. Changes in polar landscapes, land cover, land use, radiation, water balance, biogenic and carbon storage, rate and character of weathering, erosion and sedimentation are only few from the catalogue of changes occurring distinctly in polar regions. There is currently no global and regional database that defines these rates within ice-free areas in last decades period. The knowledge of this processes is still at very low level and its recognition is a great chance for international community of researchers in the nearest future. Existing data sets well document effects of changes in polar environment in past decades, however such investigations have to be more intensive, performed with the use of new methods and concentrated on problems the most important from the point of view of global changes. This way of thinking comprises a consequent system-quantity and evolutional activity in researches of polar environment: identification and quantification of matter an energy circulation, definition of the internal structure and functional relations in the system, determination of intensity, dynamics and balance of fluxes between subsystems. As main research units should be treated glaciated and nonglaciated catchments.
The currently proposed project is intended to fill the gap in regional scale investigations based on the existing infrastructure of Polish Spitsbergen bases (Kaffioyra of Nicolaus Copernicus University from Toruń and Petuniabukta of Adam Mickiewicz University from Poznań – figure 1) with a long-term data sets on environmental conditions of the western coast of the island operating in strongly maritime climate (e.g. Przybylak & Araźny 2005, Przybylak et al. 2009), with well recognized permafrost active layer dynamics (e.g. Grześ 1995, 2005, Przybylak et al. 2010) and glaciers behavior (e.g. Sobota 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010), as well as from the central part of the island, representing inner-fjord quasi-continental climate variant of high Arctic (e.g. Kostrzewski et al. 1989, Rachlewicz 2003, 2008, 2009a, 2009 b, Rachlewicz et al. 2007, Rachlewicz & Styszyńska 2007, Rachlewicz & Szczuciński 2008, Zwoliński et al. 2008, Bednorz & Kolendowicz 2010, Małecki et al. 2011, Mazurek et al., 2012) integrating the observations of cryosphere reactions to climate changes in three aspects: a) permafrost active layer temperature and thickness – previously investigated, however, with the use of different instruments and methodology; b) thermal state of permafrost at bigger depths (possibly down to 30 m) – never before investigated, but being a very sensitive indicator of climate, and broader, environmental changes; c) the behavior of small valley glaciers – reacting without inertia to environmental stimuli, though very important in observing year by year relations between many geographical components (snow and ice covers, water discharge, sediments transport, geocryosphere etc.).
Two absolutely novel approaches to polar environment researches are intended to be applied:
it is still very restricted use of satellite imagery to study permafrost and thermal state of the ground in polar regions, except surface forms identifications. Exceptional field is open with the use of land surface temperature, snow cover and ice investigations with the MODIS sensor installed on Terra and Aqua satellites. Up to now single papers are referring to the problem (Hachen et al. 2009, Langer et al. 2010, Riggs & Hall 2011, Westermann et al. 2011). Images are characterized with high temporal resolution (1-8 days) and low spatial (250-500-1000 m). They are covering the period from February 2000 (Terra) and June 2002 (Aqua) up to nowadays. They perfectly fit to analyze multi-year and seasonal tendencies. Second source of data is available as thermal images from Landsat 7 satellites (ETM+ sensor) and Terra (ASTER sensor), with much higher spatial resolution (60 m). They cover the period from 1999. There were no attempts made yet to use thermal satellite images for permafrost studies
The use of geostatistial estimations and simulations to the integration of direct data (permafrost active layer soundings) and indirect data (georadar imagery and other geophysical methods – e.g. Vonder-Muhl et al. 2002, Hauck & Vonder-Muhl 2003, Gibas et al. 2005, Dobiński 2010) to obtain detailed images of spatio-temporal variability of permafrost table (active layer thickness) in comparison e.g. with teledetective data to produce permafrost maps in the scale of sub-regional units (100 and more km2, like Ebbadalen in Petuniabukta or Kaffioyra plain).

The concept and schedule of research
The solution of the project problem and main research aims will be realized through the following specific tasks:
- Meteorological monitoring – the gathering of basic information on weather conditions is a continuation of observations performed in the study areas during last decades (e.g. Przybylak et al. 2006, 2007, 2009, Rachlewicz 2003, 2009b). It has already shown the contrast between selected sites, however, researches proposed here will aggregate data acquired with same types of sensors, elaborated with the same procedures and stored in one database, excluding to the minimum errors being the effect of data transfer etc. Moreover the observations will continue throughout the whole year, that is rare or even unavailable from such a remote places as proposed in the project (uninhabited coasts, inner land parts, glaciers);
- Acquisition of basic information on energy fluxes in the near-ground atmospheric layer in relation to various environmental factors as the base for further debates on permafrost active layer seasonal and multi-year development – i.e. analysis of existing cartographic and air/space photographic sources in the scope of geology, geomorphology, vegetation etc. (partly collected and elaborated e.g. by Karczewski (ed.) 1990, Lankauf 2002, Dallmann et al. 2004, Grześ & Sobota (eds.) 2005, Rachlewicz et al. 2007). The selected areas are showing a wide range of differences described in the above mentioned elaborations, some dependent on the main assumption taken into account in the project about the existing climatic contrast, some not;
- Determination of the cryosphere dynamics in seasonal and intra-annual frequency, based on permafrost active layer thickness and thermal state measurements. The observations are planned to be linked to pre-assumed environmental conditions as suggested in the Circumarctic Active Layer Monitoring program (CALM) according to its guidelines (e.g. Christiansen 2004). Previous studies, however, ran separately (e.g. Rachlewicz & Szczuciński 2008, Przybylak et al. 2010) are showing phenomena divergence and needs confirmation in a unified observation system application. Pilot studies using CALM techniques applied in Petuniabukta (Małecki et al. 2011) seems to be very promising for the future;
- Determination of the cryosphere dynamics in long-term record, as premises read from the lower permafrost layers, based on the comparison of temperature level and changes in deep boreholes. It has been shown that the warming is proceeding down the Earth crust (e.g. Osterkamp & Romanovsky 2009), long term records and sites location are sparse on Svalbard. The starting of new observations, whether it will not support the temporal data supply will fill the ergodic rule of exploiting the spatial differentiation as the surrogate of time. Deep permafrost layers degradation is also influencing the relations with changing terrain coverage structure – as related to ice masses decay and their properties, that has been shown e.g. in Svalbard for NyAlesund vicinities by Haldorsen et al. (2009), that is of crucial importance for further deliberations related to proposed glaciers behavior monitoring;
- Measurements of mass balance of two selected small valley glaciers, on examples of Waldemarbreen (area 2.7 km2, located in the Kaffioyra region – c.f. figure 2) and Pollockbreen (area 1.6 km2, located in the Petuniabukta region – c.f. figure 3). Small glaciers in the state of intensive recession, like the proposed ones (e.g. Lankauf 2002, Rachlewicz et al. 2007) are perfect indicators of contemporary climate changes (Oerlemans & Fortuin 1992), however their reactions may vary locally, that proposed extensive studies may clearly prove;
- Registration of the set of phenomena related to mass balance state of glaciers, i.e. snow/ice storage, changes of fronts position, water discharge, sediments discharge, frontal landscape formation. Long term studies for both regions are available based on archive materials as own observations (e.g. Karczewski 1990, Lankauf 2002, Rachlewicz et al. 2007, Rachlewicz 2009, Sobota et al. 2010) will be integrated and supplemented and confronted with contemporary, multifaceted investigations (meteorology, glaciology, hydrology etc.);
- Integration of acquired results mainly of spatial origin – based on point measurements of selected environmental parameters from registration devices, profiling with use of geophysical methods (as previously tested with success e.g. by Gibas et al. 2005 or Dobiński & Leszkiewicz 2010), air pictures and satellite images analyses, with absolutely novel implementation of MODIS Land Surface Temperature tools and other sensors (c.f. Riggs & Hall 2011) and further elaboration of thematic layers with the use of GIS and geostatistical methods
It is also expected in the general research plan for the three consecutive years and five organized expeditions, that temporal variability of the observed phenomena will be noticed. Seasonal observations of active processes in the Arctic will be supplemented with automatic registration, on one hand expanding the time of observations for the period when it is sometimes even difficult to reach that remote places chosen for observations, on the other hand allowing maximum objectivity of the gathered data sets, not dependent on observer mistakes (c.f. e.g. Tijm-Reijmer & Oerlemans 2011).

Research techniques
The applied scientific techniques are based on elementary rules of the integrated monitoring of natural environment (e.g. Kostrzewski 1993) adopted to polar conditions (e.g. Kostrzewski et al. 2007, Zwoliński 2007) and in relation to international monitoring projects functioning for many years in the Arctic (CALM, GTN-P, GLACIODYN). Research proceedings is composed of three main elements: fieldworks, laboratory works and data processing. Within the fieldworks the establishment of research spots is a basic task. Primarily two regions of different climatic conditions were chosen (figures 1, 2 and 3). Kaffioyra, with Nicolaus Copernicus University Research Station is located on the western coast of Spitsbergen, directly exposed on the influences of the Greenland Sea and western atmospheric circulation. As all maritime climate related locations it is subjected high precipitation, air humidity and mild influence of sea water on air temperature, especially related to extremity limitations. Petuniabukta, however, located only about 100 km east from the NCU Station and island coast, moreover on the fjord head, has the precipitation level of 1/3 of the previous one and much higher annual temperature amplitudes. Within both regions research spots of some similar features are proposed. Geological and geomorphological features are parts of broader Svalbard system with the existence of crystalline, pre-Devonian bedrock and sedimentary units deposited afterwards (e.g. Dallmann et al. 1999), specific type of semi-cover (Spitsbergen type) glaciation (e.g. Hagen et al. 1993) undergoing intensive decay, especially in its westerly parts.
The meteorological cover of research will include the installation of two sets of two identical automatic weather stations (AWS) with independent power supply allowing supportless work throughout the whole year. The installed sensors will measure atmospheric pressure, air temperature and humidity (x 3), wind speed and direction, precipitation, total and UV radiation. The location of AWS will be representative for near coast and glacier conditions.
Permafrost active layer monitoring will follow CALM rules (e.g. Christiansen 2004), that suppose the organization of two 100x100 m test fields, “dry” one and “wet” one, within which thaw depth will be measured in the 10x10 m net and centrally the ground temperature and humidity loggers at depths of 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0 m and maximum possible depth, as well as above the ground at 0.0, 0.05 and 2.0 m will be installed. Thaw depth will be checked at least twice a month during melting period and temperature/humidity measurements will run continuously. Additionally automatic devices to measure ground freezing and ground surface movements are planned.
The monitoring of deeper permafrost temperatures will be based on boreholes drilled with help of external enterprise. The boreholes will reach, depending on local conditions of drilling 30 m, that is in accordance with the assumptions of GTN-P program (Burges et al. 2000). The program PACE – Permafrost and Climate in Europe is assuming the distribution of temperature sensors in the borehole at depths of 0.2; 0.4; 0.8; 1.2; 1.6; 2.0; 2.5; 3.0; 3.5; 4.0; 5.0; 7.0; 9.0; 10.0; 11.0; 13.0; 15.0; 20.0; 25.0; 30.0 m. Data acquisition will run the whole year round for the whole time of the project and together with CALM sites is supposed to be maintain also after the project termination.
The monitoring of glaciers will be a continuation of former activities in the case of Waldemarbreen (Sobota 2007), transferred in the same form onto Pollockbreen, where such a studies were not previously done, except ice front position measurements (Rachlewicz et al. 2007). The network of accumulation/ablation stakes is planned not only along glaciers centerline but covering all their parts from the cirque area to the snout. Stakes readings will be performed in spring, to obtain maximum mass increase (snow accumulation, with additional measurements of physical and chemical snow cover properties) and during summer, to measure ablation dynamics and establish, if possible, equilibrium line altitude. Glaciers will also be under GPS survey to locate front positions and mapping different glaciological phenomena on the ice and in marginal zones of glaciers. The reaction of glaciers to climate changes is covering also the melt-water discharge and the transportation of sediments by proglacial streams. Glacial catchments will be monitored in terms of water balance and denudation rates at gauging stations, registering the following parameters: water stage, water temperature, reaction, mineralization, suspended sediments transfer. Pilot water and sediment samples will be collected for further analyses to calibrate installed devices.
Spatial differentiation of cryospheric phenomena will be mapped in the field with the use of classical geodetic methods, GPS and their vertical extent in the ground and ice with the use of georadar. It seems to be the fastest of geophysical methods to identify surface layers of sediments structures as well as the structure and properties of glacier ice. The planned survey include repeated profiling to estimate thaw depth in various rocks and deposits as well the distribution of buried ice and permafrost in front of glaciers, and distribution of different temperature layers in the ice (to resolve whether the glacier is cold or polythermal).
Water and sediment samples collected during field campaigns will be transferred to home laboratories in Poland. The analysis will provide detailed composition of substratum on one hand to sealed about the structure of water and sediments balance influenced with the measured energy fluxes, and on the other hand to obtain reference data for geospatial analyses based on air/satellite imagery.
Data processing will follow field and laboratory works as well as will independently enrich the results according to the material obtained on the base of photogrametry works, elaboration of air and satellite pictures. Database preparation and management, geostatistical analyses will allow to obtain a wide, comprehensive information about the polar realm and its changes in the current unstable environmental conditions.

Clear-cut and documented effect of the undertaken project
Project contractors are involved in the works of several professional committees, associations and scientific working groups (Polar Meteorology Commission of the Committee on Polar Research of Polish Academy of Sciences, Commission of Contemporary Morphogenetic Processes and Commission of Glacial Geomorphology of the Association of Polish Geomorphologists, SEDIBUD and SmallCATCHMENTS Working Groups of International Association of Geomorphologists, GLACIODYN), which all are constituting a good forum to discuss crucial methodological, practical and subjective problems of carried research by means of meetings during workshops, conferences and symposia annually organized in Poland and abroad. The outcome of such meetings is usually presented in the form of theme issues of well recognized international journals (e.g. Geomorphology, Annals of Glaciology, Zeitshrift fur Geomorphologie, Norsk Geografisk Tiddskrift, Polish Polar Research) or more regional Polish publications (Quaestiones Geographicae, Geologos, Annales UMK, Problemy Klimatologii Polarnej). Aside of the participation in various conferences and presentation of project results, because of the involvement in steering boards of above mentioned scientific groups it is also planned to organize own sessions related to studied subject during highly ranked events e.g. European Geoscience Union, International Association of Glaciologists meetings. Parts of results collected during the project realization might be used as separate papers or chapters in PhD and habilitation proceedings of the grant contractors (at least in four cases). Separate paper publications are intended to be submitted e.g. to as highly ranked journals as Journal of Glaciology, Geomorphology, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms or Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, Remote Sensing of Environment.
As the instrumental outcome it is worth to underline that wide testing of georadar in polar realm studies will be of great importance because of its still limited application in such remote areas. The broad use of georadar technology is also of big importance in dissemination of this very accurate and easy-to-use method in environmental studies. Similar conviction is related to newly implemented methods of satellite images analyses and use of geostatistics, greatly widening results applications horizon.
We look forward to construct, on the base of our research, a new model of glacial/periglacial functioning in conditions of accelerated environmental changes in polar regions. We are convinced that based on diligent, large-scale studies, it will find its appropriate place in the science development.

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