Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard is a proposal to exploit the research potential by integrating Polish research activites and coordinating snow studies on Svalbard, in the areas of Polish stations and scientific laboratories (Fig.1), as a part of a wider pan-Arctic programme organized under ICARP III priorities, and tasks established by WMO in CryoNet.

The programme is an initiative of the Centre for Polar Studies KNOW under the auspices of the Polish Polar Consortium. Its priorities are in line with the statutory targets of the Polish Polar Consortium, especially in regards to research coordination and logistic, and also strengthening the position of the Polish research stations. Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard was accepted by the Central European Polar Partnership (Austria, Czech Republic, Poland).

Tasks proposed in the Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard define, priority research areas, based on the recognition of knowledge gaps. Implementation of common activities in these areas will provide a shift of cognition limits in particular fields and it will give a chance for a significant scientific success. Integration of team activity of research units will allow broader studies, both, geographically and substantially. Another feature of the program is its cross-disciplinarity. Crossing the boundaries of traditional cognition areas and their innovative combinations will allow to achieve a new data quality and provide important scientific conclusions. In a later stage the Working Groups of the Polish Snow Research Programme plan to develop logistic and financial mechanisms of its implementation.

The program intends to work closely with institutions that coordinate and support Arctic and polar research, including the Committee on Polar Research PAS,  Polish Polar Consortium, Centre for Polar Studies KNOW, National Centre for Research and Development, National Science Centre, International Arctic Science Committee and others. Collaborative projects which will also include activities for promotion and education are planned. The frameworks of the Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard are open to cooperation with other Polish and foreign research, educational and economic institutions interested in the snow issues in the Arctic region.

Organization of the Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard was financially supported by the Leading National Research Centre (KNOW) received by the Centre for Polar Studies for the years 2014-2018 

Benefits from the programme implementation:

  • strengthening Polish position in international programmes and projects;
  • integration of national and international research institutions in terms of all environmental aspects determined by snow cover features;
  • better use of the Polish research potential in Spitsbergen by sharing equipment and infrastructure for collaborative research projects;
  • access to the data from a wide network of sites representative for different regions and substrate types obtained synchronously by using uniform methods;
  • coordination of fieldwork logistics, standardization of field studies methods, a common, integrated database.
Obszary polskiej aktywności badawczej na Svalbardzie

Areas of Polish research activities in Svalbard

Main aims of the programme: 

  • assessment of the polar environment state and analysis of processes while using physical, chemical, microbiological, spatial (remote sensing and GIS) and others methods through their synergy;
  • defining the role of snow in the functioning of present polar environment by indicating feedbacks with the other environment elements;
  • establishing similarities and differences in the features of snow cover in various environmental conditions of Svalbard, as the basis of searching of the spatial regularities and also environmental significance;
  • determining the responses of particular snow cover features to environmental changes (climate, oceanic, biological, pollution);
  • calibration and validation of remote sensing data and environmental models;
  • adaptation and development of new research methods which have not been used in snow studies so far

Diagram of interactions and feedbackloops with snow as the main linking element. Research priorities of the Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard were elaborated based on the above diagram.

Basic range of field studies on snow, recommended on the basis of existing activities of all regional research stations in Spitsbergen:

  • determining the physical properties of snow cover (density, thickness, temperature etc.) and spatial distribution in the test fields during the maximum accumulation period in the reference sites of the glaciated and non-glaciated catchments;
  • sampling (pooled sample in a snow profile), storage and transport to determine chemical (pH, conductivity, etc.) and microbiological properties;
  • measurements of meteorological background (air temperature and humidity);
  • observations of the rate of development and disappearance of snow cover from time-lapse photos


Snow cover is a critically important and rapidly responding to climate changes part of the environment. As an essential component of polar ecosystem it interacts with the climatic conditions, as well as biological processes, abiotic ones and human activity. Physicochemical properties of snow make it a catalyst for number of processes e.g. meteorological, glacial and geomorphological ones, vegetation and others, regulating the functioning of polar environment.

The observed climate changes and the Arctic system evolution generate demand for expanded knowledge on the processes determined by snow cover (Cooper et al. 2012, Callaghan et al. in press). The importance of the environmental change issues, in which snow is fundamental factor, was highlighted by a number of international initiatives that aimed at developing a coherent research strategy. Snow studies were among priorities on a road-map defined during the International Conference on Integrating Arctic Research Planning (ICARP III). A similar provision was also in resolution of the 17th World Meteorological Congress (WMO Geneva, 2015), referring to the Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW) programme and the CryoNet network created by the World Meteorological Organization. A series of workshops on the coordination of multidisciplinary research of snow cover were initiated by the Svalbard Science Forum (Oslo 2012, Sosnowiec 2015).

Polish activity in Spitsbergen has a long history, based on activities of both the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund, as well as the network of research stations run by universities. The distinctive, territorially dispersed activity of Polish research groups in Spitsbergen provides a unique opportunity to study the processes taking place in a key area of the Arctic.


Krzysztof Migała1Mariusz Grabiec2,4Jacek Jania2,4


in alphabetical order:
Tomasz Budzik2,4, Marta Bystrowska2,4, Bartłomiej Luks3,4, Piotr Dolnicki14, Mariusz Grabiec2,4, Dariusz Ignatiuk2,4, Katarzyna Jankowska5, Ewa Łupikasza2,4, Łukasz Małarzewski2,4, Krzysztof Migała1, Adam Nawrot3,4, Żaneta Polkowska6, Ireneusz Sobota7, Waldemar Walczowski8,4, Michał Węgrzyn9, Agata Zaborska8,4, Tymon Zieliński8,4


in alphabetical order:
Ewa Bednorz10, Jacek Jania2,4, Daniel Kępski3,4, Grzegorz Karasiński3,4, Marek Kasprzak1, Katarzyna Kozak6, Krystyna Kozioł3,4, Maja Lisowska2,4, Elżbieta Majchrowska2,4, Jakub Małecki10, Krzysztof Markowicz11, Tadeusz Niedźwiedź2,4, Marcin Nowak7, Marzena Osuch3,4, Piotr Owczarek1, Tomasz Petelski8,4, Michał Pętlicki3,4, Rajmund Przybylak7, Wojciech Pusz12, Anna Rozwadowska8,4, Mateusz C. Strzelecki1, Piotr Zagórski13, Wiesław Ziaja9, Zbigniew Zwoliński10


1 Wydział Nauk o Ziemi i Kształtowania Środowiska, Uniwersytet Wrocławski
2 Wydział Nauk o Ziemi, Uniwersytet Śląski
3 Instytut Geofizyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
4 Centrum Studiów Polarnych, Krajowy Naukowy Ośrodek Wiodący
5 Wydział Inżynierii Lądowej i Środowiska, Politechnika Gdańska
6 Wydział Chemiczny, Politechnika Gdańska
7 Wydział Nauk o Ziemi, Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika
8 Instytut Oceanologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk
9 Wydział Biologii i Nauk o Ziemi, Uniwersytet Jagielloński
10 Wydział Nauk Geograficznych i Geologicznych, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza
11 Wydział Fizyki, Uniwersytet Warszawski
12 Wydział Przyrodniczo-Technologiczny, Uniwersytet Przyrodniczy we Wrocławiu
13 Wydział Nauk o Ziemi i Gospodarki Przestrzennej, Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej
14 Wydział Geograficzno-Biologiczny, Uniwersytet Pedagogiczny w Krakowie


Coordinator: Ewa Łupikasza (University of Silesia, Centre for Polar Studies)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

The climate conditions of the Arctic and their changes determined by related atmospheric processes are

the result of functioning of the complex climate system including not only the atmosphere, but also hydrosphere, biosphere, pedosphere and cryosphere. A full understanding of atmospheric factors determining the occurrence, properties and variability of snow cover requires interdisciplinary studies.

Crucial meaning of Svalbard for understanding the macroscopic atmospheric processes and climate-creating mechanisms was appreciated during the Second International Polar Year (1932-1933). Nowadays, in conditions of the commonly increasing environmental changes this area has also a special importance due to the role of the Arctic Ocean and the Arctic Front in the global climate system. Recent studies indicate the existence of interactions between climate changes in Arctica and weather phenomena in the temperate latitudes of the northern hemisphere, especially the occurrence of extreme events (Cohen et al. 2014, Matsumura et al.2014, Gao et al. 2015); The carrier of these connections is the atmosphere circulation.

The rate of air temperature increase in the Arctic is twice as large in relation to global changes (Screen and Simmons 2010, Przybylak 2015) that leads to intense loss of ice and snow cover, and this successively intensifies the increase in air temperature. Snow is therefore one of the most important factors affecting the changes rate of climate and the Arctic environment. The Arctic climate changes and the reaction of the Arctic system components to ongoing changes are not clear and linear (Zhang et al. 2000, Harder and Pomeroy 2014, Hansen et al. 2014, Vihma 2014). The role of snow in the process of the Arctic amplification has not been fully investigated yet (Screen and Simmons 2010). It depends on physical properties and the extent of snow cover which are determined by the amount and form of precipitation, pollutants and aerosol inside and on snow cover and some extreme weather phenomena occurring during colder part of the year. Atmospheric processes conditioning properties and the extent of snow cover strongly determined its impact on other components of the Arctic climate system.

Priority research directions

Atmosphere properties and its processes have a multifaceted impact on snow cover, which is a link between a number of environmental sciences. Snow cover plays a huge role in functioning of the polar regions climate system, which currently has been strongly changed. Extremely important in the Arctic feedbacks, involving also snow cover, make it impossible to clearly distinguish the causes and effects of ongoing climate changes entailing significant environmental changes.

Cognitive limitations in relation to atmospheric studies, which allow to identify factors determining the occurrence and properties of snow cover, and thus its current and future role in the climate system of the Arctic, include the following issues: (I) change in the precipitation structure (liquid, mix, solid), (II) study of contaminants and aerosols in the atmosphere and snow, the radiation balance, the snow albedo and factors that determine them and the radiative forcing, (III) changes in the thickness and duration of snow cover and factors that determine them, (IV) studies of extreme weather events in colder part of the year that affect the properties and the presence of snow cover.

  • Temporal and spatial changes in occurrence and amount of precipitation forms (liquid, solid, mix) and their impact on climatic characteristics of snow cover and the processes taking place in it, relations between the occurrence of precipitation forms, air temperature and atmospheric circulation.

Precipitations primarily determine the formation of snow cover, while precipitations form (liquid, mix, solid) as well as their duration during the year affect the structure, distribution and the duration of snow cover. Knowledge of trends in amount and form of precipitation will allow to indicate the directions of future changes in properties and presence of snow cover, and thus the trends of environmental processes in which the snow cover is significant. It will also help to understand causes of the current ongoing changes in environmental processes. It is expected to develop a method to estimate the form of precipitation on the basis of air temperature, bearing in mind the adiabatic gradients and types of the atmospheric circulation (the direction of air masses advection).

  • Changes in snow cover albedo and their causes, impact of albedo on the balance of short and long wave radiation and the processes in snow cover.

The concentration and the type of contaminants and atmospheric aerosol, which is part of the radiative forcing, not only modify the radiation balance, but also at the same time determine the properties of snow cover affecting its albedo. Snow albedo can be also modified by algae developing in it. It is, in turn, an element of one of the most important feedbacks (albedo-temperature) defining the so-called Arctic amplification, which is related to the rate of air temperature increase. The research results will allow to determine what impact on the change of snow optical properties has the deposition of aerosols strongly absorbing solar radiation and development of algae in snow cover and what is the significance of transformations of microphysical snow structure resulting from the presence of thermodynamic processes occurring in the lower troposphere and in the snow layer. In addition, it will be possible to estimate the radiative forcing (changes in the energy balance) on the surface and in the upper limit of the atmosphere, resulting from the presence of aerosols and algae in snow cover, and to determine the impact of albedo changes on the disappearance of snow cover, which in turn changes the amount of UV radiation reflected and scattered in the atmosphere.

 Changes in the extent and thickness of snow cover, the processes of snow forming and disappearing with regard to meteorological conditions. The role of wind in the distribution, thickness and the metamorphosis of snow cover.

The process of albedo feedback – air temperature, occurrence and force of the Arctic amplification are also dependent on changes in the extend, thickness and duration of snow cover. Understanding the temporal climate changes of snow cover (conditioned also by the circulation of the atmosphere) and the results of their modelling will be therefore useful in the evaluation of mentioned above feedback, its effects and the impact on other elements of the environment. Elaborated climate projections will allow to assess the direction of future changes in snow conditions and resulting environmental implications.


  • Winter extreme weather events (liquid precipitations, episodes of high air temperature and heavy snowfall) as factors affecting snow cover and their synoptic background.

The above-mentioned climatological characteristics of snow cover are also strongly shaped by extreme weather events occurring in colder part of the year. They include episodes of high air temperature, heavy snowfall and rainfall. The results of research on extreme events, which occurrence is usually conditioned by synoptic situation, will determine their impact on the rate of snow metamorphosis, the vertical profile structure and  the properties of snow cover, as well as their influence on other environmental processes.

Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

The formation of snow cover is determined by the occurrence of snowfall. The precipitation structure, the composition of pollutants and the presence of aerosol as well as some of the extreme weather events in colder part of the year determine the physical and chemical properties and the duration of snow cover. They, in turn, have an significant impact on glacial processes (the mass balance of glaciers), heat conditions of active layer, mass movements, not occurring in snow cover biological, chemical and physical processes as well as on the functioning of microbiological, plant and animal communities. Atmospheric pollutants and aerosol getting into snow cover and determining its chemical composition and physical properties modify the radiation balance, albedo as well as they may affect the rate of snow cover melting, which in turn modifies the interactions between snow cover and other elements of the Arctic environment. Ozone-depleting substances influence the amount of harmful UV radiation, which affects negatively the organisms.

Atmosphere pollutants and aerosol primarily affect the rate of air temperature change and thus the extensive transformation of the Arctic environment. The above-mentioned processes, phenomena affecting snow cover and its climatology are conditioned by both atmosphere as well as ocean circulation. The heat transported by ocean currents, especially by the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC), is released to the atmosphere in the Arctic and it determines the climate conditions in this region (Walczowski 2014). Anomalies of water temperature in the Nordic Seas strongly influence the anomalies of atmospheric circulation in the northern hemisphere, and in consequence in the Arctic (Schlichtholz 2016).


Coordinator: Mariusz Grabiec (University of Silesia, Centre for Polar Studies)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

Glaciers are the natural reservoir of snow, in which the nival processes may be continuously and fully analyzed during all seasons of the year. As a result, it is possible to observe the complete cycle of development and loss of snow cover in relation to weather conditions. Information gained within the glaciers on the structure of one-season snow layer are the specific sediment profile which is a reflection of the conditions in the accumulation season. Snow is a key factor for the existence of glaciers, being a building material that periodically regenerates the loss of glacier mass during the summer season. It is also an important factor affecting glacial processes such as the energy balance, heat regime, drainage and others (Grabiec et al. 2011).

The results from studies on glaciers may provide reference information for other research areas of snow. Nival processes, including development and evolution of snow cover on glaciers are definitely much less disturbed by external factors rather than in non-glaciated areas with diversified relief and complex wind field. Following difficulties in reliable measurement of precipitation at the meteorological stations the snow studies on glaciers allow to complete information about the actual snowfall (Hagen et al. 2003) and to define for instance the accumulation gradient for the particular region (e.g. Winther et al. 1998, Sand et al. 2003, Grabiec et al. 2011, Sobota 2013). In this light the results of snow studies are in the centre of a wide audience interest and may allow to interdisciplinary cooperation.

Priority research directions

In the light of the current state of knowledge about snow cover on glaciers and its environmental role and cognition deficits the following research directions are recommended.

  • Determination of the spatial variability of the snow on glaciers as major reservoirs of solid precipitation at different scales: from local (glacier basin) to regional (Svalbard glaciation). This will facilitate to indicate interactions of nival processes with the different rate of environmental changes in particular parts of the archipelago. The task requires the cooperation between research teams working simultaneously in different areas, using similar methods and tools. The use of remote sensing methods will allow to apply monitoring to a larger area, using benchmark field data for results validation.
  • Studies on the evolution of thickness and physical properties of snow cover in winter seasons in different topographic and location conditions, etc. Determination of the transformation rate  and the impact on the structure and thermal properties of the glacier. In planned works it is recommended to automate studies, implement on a wider scale continuous and remote measurements in as many locations as it is possible, and in compilations of results it is recommended to use mathematical modelling.
  • Research on changes in the physical characteristics of snow cover conditioned by climate changes and interaction snow-atmosphere (albedo, sublimation–resublimation, evaporation, surface roughness). The problem of interaction: snow cover-atmosphere may be based on two-way mathematical models, including detailed topoclimatic models on the grounds of the reduction of gridded data resolution (downscaling). Validation of processes simulation will use field observation data, thus the necessity to install/compact and service the network of automatic measuring instruments of meteorological parameters and physical properties of snow.
  • Determining the transfer of mass and energy through snow cover and, in consequence, the formation of the heat regime of glaciers. Detailed measurements will allow to determine the snow temperature in the vertical profile and heat flow in a snow layer. Field studies are suggested to be supported by modelling methods of heat transfer in non-homogeneous centers.
  • Defining the influence of chemical and organic components of snow cover on its evolution, the rate of melting etc. and the consequences of these processes for glacial hydrology. Determination of impurities content and their impact on the processes in snow cover require cooperation with chemists and microbiologists.
  • Determining the role of spatial variability of snow accumulation and redeposition in development of the glaciers mass balance. Task accomplished by extensive studies on the spatial distribution of snow using classical, geophysical and remote sensing methods as well as mathematical modelling of the wind field and redeposition of snow on the glaciers.

Recognition of water circulation and retention in snow and its secondary accumulation, as a part of water circulation in glacial system. Detailed analysis of water content and the migration routes of water in snow cover using geophysical and chemical methods. As a part of this task a detailed examination of the reorganization of flow paths of ablative water is required, which is conditioned by the properties of summer glacier surface (permeability, the presence and activation time of crevasses and cracks in the glacier). Another issue is the study of the rate of percolation through snow cover and the top layer of the glacier (the differences depending on the permeability of material).

Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

Indicated in the introduction role of the glaciated areas as reference sites integrates the snow studies on the glaciers with all other working groups. In particular, the nival processes on glaciers such as delivery, redeposition, metamorphosis, ablation and others are conditioned by processes occurring in the atmosphere. Snow accumulated on the glaciers is an important albedo controller, and its changes determine the energy balance of active surface glacier-atmosphere, and thus the thermal conditions of both isolated centers. The processes of accumulation and disappearance of snow on glaciers regulate the hydrological regime of non-glaciated areas, and consequently they control also the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, morphological forms in the glacier foreground, or the depth of the permafrost active layer. Both contaminants, as well as microorganisms, marine aerosols and other chemicals deposited in snow cover influence its seasonal dynamics and, in consequence, the rate and size of ablation. This, in turn, contributes to forming of the en- and subglacial drainage system and the glacier mass balance.


Opracowanie: Adam Nawrot (Institute of Geophysics PAS, Centre for Polar Studies)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

Snow in the polar regions is one of the three main components of the water balance, both in glaciated as well as in non-glaciated catchments, and pronival waters have a direct impact on terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

Monitoring and hydrological research conducted in the Arctic allowed to define the river regime of selected catchments (e.g. Pulina et al. 1984, Hagen and Lefauconnier 1995, Sobota 2014). They give information on chemical and mechanical denudation, important for the biodiversity development, and for morphological changes of land surface (e.g. Kostrzewski et al. 1989 Hodson et al. 2000 Szpikowski et al. 2014).

Undoubtedly, climate changes, visible also on Svalbard, affect snow cover, and thus the water and energy balance (Winther et al. 2003). However, the hydrological data available for the Arctic region are scarce, and Svalbard is no exception (Sund 2008). Thus, the study of water balance and the flow of matter in the polar catchments are insufficient, and the impact of climate changes on hydrology of the glaciated catchment is much more complex then it was originally thought (Nowak and Hodson 2013). Therefore, the hydrological studies of the polar catchments should be conducted in relation to other scientific disciplines.

Priority research directions

  • Participation of snow cover in a total matter flux in glaciated and non-glaciated catchments is important to identify sources of supply of chemicals and contaminants into the Arctic ecosystem. This knowledge will also help to determine the adaptability of glaciers and partially glaciated and non-glaciated catchments for storing deposited contaminants.
  • Determining the role of snow cover in a water balance of the polar catchments is important due to the percentage of the particular components of a water balance in a total matter flux in glaciated and non-glaciated catchments. Despite conducting numerous hydrological studies in the Arctic, information on a water balance of polar areas are rare. Therefore, it is assumed to define the role of snow in a total water balance in selected catchments of Svalbard.
  • Developing a rainfall-runoff model for polar fjords catchments will allow to prepare the forecasts of environmental changes for particular areas in Spitsbergen. A greater number of testing catchments will allow better fitting and calibration of models. For this purpose, the measurements methods should be unified, catchments should be selected with regard to their diversity and the tests of used hydrological models should be conducted.
  • Determining the role of snow in the functioning of wetlands, including tundra ponds will allow to develop a model of atmospheric, terrigenous and anthropogenic (pollutants) matter circulation in the catchment areas of lakes and polar wetlands. Wetland areas and lakes are an important source of nutrients and have direct impact on polar ecosystems.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

Hydrology of glaciated and non-glaciated catchments depends on the atmospheric conditions. Weather changes affect  freezing and thawing of water trapped in snow, ice and in the permafrost active layer. This also leads to changes in the concentrations of chemicals and sediments, which during the ablation are removed, transported and deposited in a terrestrial ecosystem and they go to the ocean.

Chemical and mechanical denudation determines the flow of matter, and thus influences the flow of biogenic elements and contaminants in polar ecosystem. Therefore, it determines the occurrence of bacteria, plant and animal habitats.

Freshwater directly affects the functioning of wetlands, tundra ponds and lakes, in terms of both biotic and abiotic features.

Erosion of rivers, which in polar region are characterized by high kinetic energy, affects the geomorphological changes of catchment, including slopes and moraine areas, as well as beaches and marginal zones.

All of above mentioned relationships have also a significant impact on life and human activity in polar regions.

In that view, it should be noted that hydrology in a broader sense is connected with all working groups of the Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard.


Coordinator: Piotr Dolnicki (Pedagogical University of Cracow)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

The effects of contemporary climate changes are the subject of many scientific studies (e.g. Repelewska-Pękalowa, Pękala 2007). Attempts are undertaken to determine the symptoms of these changes, which reflection is behavior of particular environment elements and designation of phenomena that may have indicator meaning for tracking their dynamics. In this context, a very important element is tracking the morphological changes occurring under the influence of snow cover. A crucial aspect is also the dynamics of  permafrost top layer for which snow cover is an essential regulator. Increasing activity of permafrost active layer during recent seasons (Christiansen et al. 2003) affects the dynamics of changes of the geomorphological processes occurring in the periglacial zone. The increase of newly observed phenomena such as reservoirs drying, subsurface flow and increased dynamics of coastal processes are an important impulse to undertake research on permafrost. The research results of snow cover on slopes will have an important meaning to determine the mass transfer from slopes to marine and terrestrial reservoirs, as well as to assess their influence on slopes morphology. They can be a reference for the reconstruction of processes taking place in Central Europe at the beginning of the Holocene. Slope processes are also important for the evolution of terrestrial biological environment in Spitsbergen. The stability of rock covers is especially important e.g. for nesting conditions of bird colonies (little auk – Alle alle) among rock blocks.


Priority research directions

Priorities of geomorphological research and permafrost result from the experience gained in areas indicated as a reference ones, well described on the basis of long-term activity of Polish expeditions. It is an area of Wedel Jarlsberg Land and Sørkapp Land (SW Spitsbergen), Oscar II Land (NW Spitsbergen) and Dickson Land (NE Spitsbergen).

Research on relation of snow cover and terrain morphology are focused among others on mountain slopes. An essential cognitive element is to determine changes in slopes relief and surfaces of talus cones, conditioned by varied snow thickness and retention time of snow patches in nival gullies and cavities. Another aspect is to determine the dynamics and the characteristics of mass movements (solifluction, downhill creep, avalanches) according to the exposure and time retention of snow (Chmal et al. 1988, Traczyk and Korabiewski 2008, Owczarek et al. 2013, Repelewska-Pękalowa et al. 2013). It is recommended to designate the accumulation areas of snow and waste material transported by avalanches and to determine the size and frequency of this phenomenon by using modern equipment (motion sensors). Another research element is the record of avalanches and related to them supplies of rock debris to lakes e.g. in Bratteggdalen, Revdalen, and then preparation of map of lakes bottom morphology along with the geomorphological mapping of submarine landslides and cones. Nowadays, the problem of coastline erosion is a very important issue, including the assessment of snow cover impact on erosion (Forbes 2011, Zagórski 2011). It appears advisable to undertake studies on the influence of snow cover on the coastline degradation and to initiate, in selected reference areas, monitoring of the snow thickness at the foot of the cliffs. The relationship between snow cover and permafrost requires constant measurements of snow cover thickness and heat analysis of the permafrost active layer as well as the determination of long-lasting snow patches impact on soil physical properties (Migała 1991, 1994, Sobota 2013, Dolnicki 2002, 2015). An important assumption is also to define a differentiated rate of permafrost degradation between slopes and flat marine terrace, where the spatially changing thickness of snow cover is significant.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

Clear relations between research issues elaborated for the permafrost and geomorphology working group may be attributed to the terrestrial ecosystems group. The problem correlating studies includes the change of bird colonies and morphological changes on slopes as well as correlation between snow cover, soil physical properties and vegetation cover. Many common issues refers to the atmosphere (basic meteorological elements), remote sensing and GIS (detection of changes on photographic, satellite images). Groups such as databases and infrastructure, standardization of research methods are universal and necessary for all working groups.


Coordinators: Bartłomiej Luks (Institute of Geophysics PAS, Centre for Polar Studies), Katarzyna Jankowska (Gdańsk University of Technology), Michał Węgrzyn (Jagiellonian University)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

Despite a great scientific interest in climate changes during winter, the influence of these changes on Arctic terrestrial ecosystems is still poorly understood. Snow cover conditions a number of processes occurring in terrestrial ecosystem, including water cycle and the energy balance, and it constitutes a kind of storehouse for pollutants and nutrients deposited during the entire accumulation period.

The retention time of snow cover, its physical features  and chemical properties affect the functioning of microbiological (Hell et al. 2013), plant (Semenchuk et al. 2013, Cooper 2014, Węgrzyn and Wietrzyk 2015), animal (Kohler and Aanes 2004, Hansen at al. 2014) communities as well as the rate of the active layer thawing (Park et al. 2015). An extremely important role, regarding the functioning of Arctic terrestrial ecosystems, plays observed recently the shortening of winter season duration (Cooper 2014) and frequent phenomena of thaw and rain in winter period (Hansen et al. 2014).

Priority research directions

Taking into account above factors and the extent of knowledge gaps the following research directions are recommended:


  • Extreme events (thaws, rain and snow) in winter season as factors determining snowpack properties and chemical and biological processes within snow cover

Quantification of extreme events occurring in winter will allow to take into account their role in snow cover forming. These phenomena have an extremely significant impact on the modelling of snow cover thickness and amount of water equivalent of snow. Detailed information about the internal structure of snow cover is also important during the modelling of chemical processes occurring in it, and for better understanding of microbiological communities.

  • The role of basal ice, formed on the surface of ground as a result of winter thaws and rains, in water and nutrients circulation in tundra ecosystem and its impact on tundra organisms functioning

Due to more frequent occurrence of „rain on snow” phenomenon and thaws in winter, the role of basal ice, as a factor modifying the water and nutrients circulation dynamics in tundra ecosystems, is increasing. Planned recognition of the spatial distribution and thickness of basal ice in experimental catchments is important for development of hydrological and biogeochemical balance models. It will also allow to better estimate water equivalent of snow from satellite images. The basal ice layers influence the delay of the vegetation period beginning, also restrict the access of water to soil and melt much slower than snow. In addition, a thick layer of basal ice almost totally limit large herbivores (mainly reindeer) to get food, contributing to increased mortality of these animals during winter. Changes in the population of herbivores affect, in turn, the dynamics of tundra plant communities.

  • Influence of deposited pollutants and microbiological communities development on changes in snow cover albedo

Albedo is an element of one of the most important feedbacks  (albedo-temperature) associated with the so-called Arctic amplification, which is related to the rate of air temperature increase. Beside the changes in size of snow crystals and their hydration, the impact on albedo change have also deposited pollutants and, as recently observed in Greenland, development of the microbiological communities (mostly prokaryotic and eukaryotic algae).

  • Estimation of number, biomass and taxonomic composition of microorganisms supplied together with fresh snow in the Arctic region

In world literature more and more attention is paid to the problem of biological air pollutants. More numerous are also reports that  they may be transported long distances. Authors describe the occurrence of bioaerosol in the air in environments almost unchanged by man, such as polar or high mountain regions. With snowfall the deposition of aerosol pollutants, including microbiological ones, occur. By using the sequencing technique it is possible to describe population dynamics and determine the likely sources of bacteria carried in the atmosphere, as well as their importance to the ecosystem.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

Research tasks designated in the terrestrial ecosystems and microbiology group are closely linked spatially and thematically with tasks of the following working groups: glaciers, hydrology, permafrost and geomorphology and atmosphere. 


Coordinators: Tymon Zieliński,  Waldemar Walczowski (Institutie of Oceanology PAS, Centre for Polar Studies)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

Ocean is a key component of the Arctic climate system. The heat transported by ocean currents, especially as a result of processes related to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), is released to the Arctic atmosphere during autumn and winter and shapes the climate conditions in this region (Walczowski 2014). The large heat anomalies transported by the Atlantic Ocean is crucial for climate variability (Schlichtholz 2014, Walczowski et al. 2012). These anomalies modify also the atmospheric circulation and the sea ice level in  the Arctic Ocean (Piechura, Walczowski, 2009).

Relations between atmospheric and ocean circulation and ice are described by the feedback loop (Overland et al. 2011). Warming and the atmospheric circulation changes cause a reduction in sea ice, the sea surface albedo change and increased heat absorption by the ocean in summer. This, in turn triggers higher heat fluxes from the ocean and warming the atmosphere during autumn, which involves the atmospheric circulation change and global warming, which in turn leads to a further sea ice reduction. In this way, the loop of feedbacks of the Arctic amplification mechanisms causing the sea ice reduction and climate changes closes.

Priority research directions

  • Spectral measurements of snow BRDF.

Motivation: World literature describes very few of these measurements. They are necessary for 3D modelling of solar radiation transfer and remote sensing.

  • Snow albedo research on ice pack using a small spectral radiometer mounted onboard drone. Studies on how the spectrum changes according to the snow condition – the degree of sea water flooding/splashing, recrystallization, or additives – algae, soot, etc.   

Motivation: Ice albedo is a very important factor influencing the radiation balance. With the climate warming the ice pack will cover more and more area. Measurements of snow albedo on crushed ice floe are possible only from the air.

  • How life on snow (land) influences snow optical properties, and in particular light spectral transmission through snow and spectral albedo ? It is possible to measure the optical properties and plant pigments (HPLC).

Motivation: Interesting seasonal phenomenon of the snow blooms, which temporarily affect the terrain radiation balance and the rate of snow melting (higher absorption).

  • Changes in heat regimes may induce a higher growth of algae in the surface layer of ice, and maybe snow. They are additional absorbents which may influence the rate of ice and snow melting, as well as the energy balance of the surface layer.

Methods: spectral measurements of the snow and ice optical properties, determining the type and amount of sea algae – and plant pigments (HPLC).

  • The role of snow on ice in the heat balance of the upper ocean layer in Svalbard fjords – modification of heat fluxes ocean-atmosphere:
  • snow on ice as a source of fresh water in fjords;
  • the impact of snow on sea ice melting processes, especially in the marginal zone with the open ocean in the so-called Marginal Ice Zone;
  • the impact of heat fluxes from the ocean on the land snow cover melting on Svalbard.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

An essential component of the Arctic climate system is sea ice cover. The permanent ice cover restricts the transfer of energy between the atmosphere and the ocean. The presence of sea ice during winter and polar night on the one hand affects the loss in the surface radiation balance, but on the other hand, it isolates the ocean waters from heat loss and reduces evaporation. During summer the presence of sea ice facilitates the formation of fog and stratus clouds occurring, which reduces the income of solar energy to the ocean surface.  An additional influence on the heat balance in the region have heat sources stored in waters of these reservoirs, where the Arctic waters do not occur.

The extent of ice occurrence depends on both the temperature and atmosphere dynamics as well as ocean heat transport. Sea ice cover, in contrast to the continental glaciation cover, can relatively fast change its surface  under the influence of various external factors, leading to increase of air temperature variability. This connections are best shown by the current feedbacks in the Arctic, which may be simply concluded in following sequence of events:

  • temperature increase leads to the ice and snow melting and this to albedo reducing,
  • stored ocean heat, due to albedo change causes a further increase in air temperature.

Coordinators: Żaneta Polkowska (Gdańsk University of Technology), Agata Zaborska (Institute of Oceanology PAS, Centre for Polar Studies)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

Currently in the Arctic contaminants, including organic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) or polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), inorganic substances, e.g. metals (Hg, Cd, Pb, As) and radionuclides (Pu, Cs) as well as elemental carbon called black carbon (AMAP 2002) come mainly from global transport and get into the environment through atmosphere, ocean currents and sea ice. As the global environment changes affect the atmospheric circulation, currents and ice transport, changes in the supply and flow of pollutants into the Arctic regions are expected (Macdonald et al. 2005).

Snow cover is a unique kind of “storehouse” of atmospheric pollutants. Precipitation particles include in their composition pollutants occurring in the atmosphere. In the absence of snow melting the accumulation of a whole pollutant load in snow cover is observed. Crucial is the process of redistribution of water and contaminants included in it as a result of snow blowing; in deflation areas leads to reduction, and in accumulation areas  to increase of pollutants deposition.

During the retention of snow cover on its surface the dry deposition of pollutants occurs, atmospheric sediments are deposited, snow is redeposited to other places, and within the snow cover the water percolation, physicochemical transformations and metamorphosis occur. As a consequence, snow cover remains the spatial and temporal archive of, among others, precipitation, its exchange processes with atmosphere and physical and chemical transformations within snow cover. Chemically, snow cover may be considered as the „measuring and controlling instrument” of the environment state and quality.

Priority research directions

  • Recognition of the factors influencing the temporal and spatial variability in the chemical composition of snow cover:
    • recognition of physical and chemical exchange processes between the atmosphere components and the snow and ice surfaces
    • gaining knowledge about the reactions (oxidation, photolysis) occurring in and on the surface of snow and ice;
    • understanding the role of physical properties of chemical substances (e.g. solubility, vapor pressure) in changes of chemical charge and its release from snow cover.


  • Snow as a mean of transport and a “ chemical reactor” for the compounds contained in the lower atmosphere:
    • identification of groups of compounds present in snow cover by using modern analytical techniques (e.g. GCxGC-MS, LCxLC-MS);
    • quantification of contaminants:

– compounds of the Persistent Organic Pollutants group, e.g. dioxin-like compounds, PAHs, PCBs and a so-called newly appearing compounds with properties contributing to the violation of homeostasis mechanism of ecosystems exposed to them (e.g. endocrine)

– heavy metals considered as contaminants (Hg, As, Cd, Pb, Cu, Zn) and anthropogenic radionuclides (239,240Pu, 238Pu, 90Sr, 137Cs)

– elemental carbon „black carbon”, organic carbon and stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen (d13C, d15N)

  • using the „fingerprint” technique to identify the sources of studied organic compounds, metals and radionuclides as well as the incidental events (e.g. volcanic eruptions, environmental disasters, large forest areas burning) by using, among others, the diagnostic concentration ratio of compounds present in snow cover, e.g. ratio of selected PAHs, 206Pb/207Pb czy 239,240Pu/137Cs;


  • Determining the contaminant loads transported to the Spitsbergen region through the atmosphere and sea ice.

The study will be conducted to determine changes in the concentrations and sources of contaminants in the Arctic environment in the multi-annual and seasonal scale.

  • Seasonal scale – the assessment of the contemporary precipitation (snow, rain) as well as first- and multi-year sea ice (transported to the Spitsbergen region from the coast of Siberia, Pavlov et al. 2004). Measurement of organic pollutants, radionuclides, heavy metals and elemental carbon will be performed in samples taken every month for 2 years, and that will allow to determine the accurate contaminant load in particular months/seasons.
  • Multi-annual scale – ice cores will be examined taken from glacier or glaciers in the Hornsund Fjord region. Dating of the particular layers of ice core (210Pb) will help to reconstruct the history of the atmosphere pollutants accumulation in the Hornsund region during the last 150 years. Measurements of radionuclides, heavy metals, PAHs, PCBs and elemental carbon will be performed. The use of specific indicators of contaminants origin (e.g. ratio of selected PAHs, 206Pb/207Pb and 239,240Pu/137Cs) will allow to determine the sources of these contaminants in particular years.


  • Determining the dynamics of migration and elution of pollutants from snow cover:
    • determining the diverse rate of analytes release
    • comparing the measured loads of deposition released during the thaw episodes with the defined critical loads (e.g. for SOx, NOx).
  • Use of advanced chemometric methods (cluster analysis, principal component analysis, self organizing maps SOM) to development of the multi-parameter data sets concerning the results of determined organic and inorganic compounds in snow cover samples in order to data mining on analytes concentration level in time of occurrence; the strength of the relationship between particular parameters and attempt to identify the sources of particular compounds emissions as well as to facilitate visualization of the internal structure of a multi-dimensional data set of received results.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

Studies on concentrations and also on the processes affecting sources, load and fate of contaminants in snow cover will join the environmental chemistry with research in the field of meteorology, glaciology, physical oceanography, biology as well as social studies.

Research topics designated by the chemistry and contaminants of snow working group will be implemented in cooperation with all thematic groups of the Polish Snow Research Programme on Svalbard:

  • temporal and spatial changes in occurrence and amount of precipitation forms and relations with atmosphere circulation („Atmosphere”);
  • observations of development and disappearance cycle of snow cover in relation to weather conditions („Glaciers”);
  • defining the role of changing snow cover parameters in biological and chemical processes occurring in the terrestrial ecosystem („Terrestrial ecosystems, botany and microbiology”);
  • cooperation in the range of snow and ice cover seasonal changes in fjords, ice cover transport to the Spitsbergen region and „black carbon” influence on ice albedo („Ocean and sea ice”);
  • determining the impact of human activity, including mining in the Arctic on snow cover pollution („Human”).

Coordinator: Marta Bystrowska (University of Silesia, Centre for Polar Studies)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

The dynamics and nature of human interactions with snow cover in the Arctic have not been well understood so far. In the Arctic context the influence of climate changes on the life of indigenous people and on tourist activity was analyzed (Rauken and Kelman 2012, Luthe et al. 2012, Becken and Hay 2007, Scott et al. 2005), but in more detail the impact of changes in snow cover and snowfall on human activity has not been previously explored. At the same time snow and its parameters affect the possibility and the nature of tourism organization (the season length, offered activities and attractions), the opportunity of hunting, or agriculture in the case of the Arctic inhabitants, but also on the safety in the Arctic (impact on a road transport, avalanche danger).

Taking into account above, an important aspect of the research planned in the area of snow is to take into consideration its influence on human activity and life by the analysis of observed and potential changes in the organization of human activities, undertaken adaptation strategies, the adaptation costs, influence on social and economic development.

Simultaneously, an interesting complement to the conducted analysis on snow will be the use of local ecological knowledge in better understanding the occurring processes and the use of local observations to gain a complete insight of transformation occurring within snow cover.

Priority research directions

Priority research directions (due to the limited human presence and activity on Svalbard, some of the proposals are not relevant for this area, but they will be implemented as a part of broader Arctic programme organized by IASC):


  • The role of snow in the tourism development: defining the role of snow cover changes in winter tourism, including costs associated with the snow cover disappearance, the impact of solid precipitation on tourist attractiveness and tourism organization, including the Svalbard region [the vast majority of tourist attractions on Svalbard is based on snow (snowmobiles, dog sledding, skiing) therefore it is important for the future of this sector to determine whether and how the snow cover changes may affect the tourist activity. Possible suggestions may be a source of recommendations for the tourism industry].
  • The influence of snow cover on a road transport: the impact of snowfall on the transport availability and a road safety, including the influence of snowfall on accidents and injuries in road traffic (potential research area – Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, Russia as regions where road transport plays an important role in access to the peripheral areas over long distances. Possible requests may be a source of recommendations for the road safety improving).
  • The impact of mining in the Arctic on the state of snow cover: this issue is closely related to contaminants analysis, but further consideration of the economic aspects and the potential costs of pollutant reduction by industry is an important complement to this research area. This will allow to better understand the legitimacy issues of extracting raw materials in the Arctic as well as the costs and risks related to this.
  • Analysis of the impact of snow cover changes on the life style and organization of communities of indigenous people inhabiting the Arctic (potential research area – Greenland, Canada, where association: the indigenous people life with activities dependent on snow cover is particularly important. Analysis of the snow cover changes and modelling of these changes may provide information on the future of the indigenous people of the Arctic).
  • The use of local ecological knowledge for modelling changes within snow cover – the use of local observations, as a complementary source of information about the state and changes of snow cover and rainfall, qualitative studies in this field will allow to fill up knowledge gaps, identify possible new problems and research aspects, as well as contribute to improving the adaptability of the Arctic inhabitants to ongoing changes.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

The study area of the man working group is a bridge between earth and social sciences. Therefore the achievements of science can gain wider practical dimension and contribute to improving the quality of life and human activity in the Arctic. The man group can also contribute to the better functioning of a man in a changing environment and understand the interactions between man and the environment.

Activities if the working group are closely associated with group concerning contaminants, but also indirectly with groups working on the atmosphere, sea ice, glaciers and permafrost.


Coordinator: Dariusz Ignatiuk (University of Silesia, Centre for Polar Studies)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

Development of a uniform system of the remote sensing measurement methods, satellite and airborne data elaboration together with homogenous for all working groups GIS methodology will allow to smoothly integrate the tasks of particular working groups into interdisciplinary elaborations. There is a great need to unify and standardize the methodology and analysis of remote sensing and GIS data in various scientific centres. It is also necessary to create databases to systematize their data. On the basis of the availability of satellite and airborne data as well as the capability of ground-based measurements, the crucial areas and the direct  monitoring zone of snow cover should be designated in the regions of the Polish activity in Spitsbergen.

Priority research directions

  • Ground-based remote sensing:
    • The adoption of common measurement methods concerning remote sensing involving the owned equipment to solve the specific objectives and issues of particular working groups: laser scanning, thermography, time-lapse cameras.
    • Creating a uniform characteristics of key research areas taking into account, among others, topography and geomorphology. This research will include creating the geodetic control network in selected areas. On the basis of the network the regular monitoring of the spatial distribution of snow cover will be conducted by using the remote sensing methods.


  • Satellite and airborne remote sensing:
    • Regular gaining of the latest satellite data (e.g. MODIS, SENTINEL) on the spatial distribution and properties of snow cover with at least one series of data for each winter season for all research areas.
    • The use of the Unmanned Aerial Systems as a complement to ground-based and satellite measurements.


  • GIS
    • Creating homogenous terrain models and developing methods of compatible analysis for all research areas.
    • Uniform data compilations using geostatistical tools and numerical models.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

  • Creation of a homogenous digital elevation model for key research area.
  • Uniform use of the available equipment to snow cover monitoring.
  • Development and use of new research methods of snow cover: microwaves, SAR, laser scanning.
  • Designation of key/benchmark areas and research result extrapolation on large areas by the use of remote sensing and modelling.

Coordinator: Ireneusz Sobota (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń)

Outline of the problem in regard to the current state of knowledge. Motivation

One of the most important scientific principles is the opportunity of comparing results of conducted research in various areas and at different time. Therefore, the standardization of research methods is necessary.

The studies of snow cover, especially its selected physicochemical properties, are often carried out by slightly different methods, although the goals are very similar. There are certain international standards for this kind of research, which should be used by everyone interested in the snow research programme.


Priority research directions

Standardized test methods will be used for all groups covered by the programme, for such tasks as: snow cover spatial distribution on glaciers and in the test fields during the maximum accumulation period in the reference sites of glaciated and non-glaciated catchments; recognition of circulation and retention of waters in snow and their secondary accumulation, as an element of water circulation in glacial system; spatial variability of the snow properties in glaciated (glaciers) and non-glaciated (tundra, etc.) areas; measurements of meteorological background (air temperature, humidity); observations of the rate of development and disappearance of snow cover; the mass balance of glaciers and others.

It is planned to carry out measurements of physicochemical properties (temperature, density, conductivity, pH, the size and shape of grains, etc.) in a snow profile using standard instruments as proposed by the International Commission on Snow and Ice (Kaser et al. 2003, Hubbard and Glasser 2005, Fierz et al. 2009, Cogley et al. 2011, Sobota 2013).

All studies will be conducted in the same time period and in similar ecotops, but in areas with different environmental conditions and located in different areas of Svalbard. Uniform research methods and research continuity will be possible mainly due to the existing infrastructure of the Polish research stations and mobile units (research vessels).

The effect of a standardized research approach to all planned tasks will be preparation of a comparative study of snow cover in entire Svalbard, the result of which will be interdisciplinary elaborations and scientific dissertations.


Interactions with other disciplines, interdisciplinarity

Standardization of methods has a cardinal importance in calibration and validation of environmental model based on „in situ” research conducted in selected reference areas.

The proposed and unified research methods of snow cover will increase the opportunities of joint comparative studies between particular working groups, and their standardization will be the necessary condition of conducting works.


Coordinators: Łukasz Małarzewski, Tomasz Budzik (University of Silesia, Centre for Polar Studies)

Tasks required for the implementation of the Polish Snow Research Programme:

  1. Gathering information about technical and measurement infrastructure and logistics necessary to achieve goals and specific topics of the program;
  2. Building a common database (metadata, the measurement results) in the form of a bilingual (Polish-English) website.

The tasks will be performed by:

  • Construction of a metadatabase that is an access to „information about information” in the form of properly cataloged, classified and available information on scientific and technical infrastructure, and measurement data;
  • Access to collected information and data via the Internet;
  • Dissemination of information about available data sets;
  • Dissemination of information about technical and scientific potential.


Polish Polar Station Hornsund
    1. Ogródek meteorologiczny Polskiej Stacji Polarnej Hornsund , (N 77.00° E 15.54°)

Stacja meteorologiczna SYNOP 01003 działa przy Polskiej Stacji Polarnej Hornsund od początków jej istnienia. Ciągłe obserwacje parametrów meteorologicznych dostępne są od 1983 roku. (standardowe pomiary meteorologiczne, promieniowanie słoneczne, bilans promieniowania, chemizm opadów atmosferycznych, miąższość pokrywy śnieżnej: dobowo, ekwiwalent wodny śniegu: co 5 dni, suma opadów atmosferycznych: co 6 godzin).

    1. Zlewnia Fuglebekken  (N 77.01  E 15.55)

Przed 2013 obszar badany nieregularnie (hydrografia, chemizm wód, wieloletnia zmarzlina, mikrobiologia, botanika, gleby).

Regularne obserwacje i pomiary.

Od października 2013:

      • miąższość pokrywy śnieżnej w 20 punktach: co tydzień
      • ekwiwalent wodny śniegu w 6 punktach: co tydzień

Od kwietnia 2014:

      • dobowy rozkład pokrywy śnieżnej i dynamika ablacji na podstawie zdjęć poklatkowych, – cotygodniowe pomiary miąższości pokrywy śnieżnej. Pomiary obejmują przede wszystkim dolną część zlewni.
    1. Lodowiec Hansa (N 77.04°  E 15.65°)

Pomiary bilansu masy lodowca od 1988 roku.

Regularne pomiary od 2003 roku:

      • miąższość pokrywy śnieżnej na tyczkach ablacyjnych: co tydzień w strefie ablacyjnej, co miesiąc w strefie akumulacyjnej
      • szurfy śnieżne w maksimum grubości pokrywy (wiosna); struktura pokrywy śnieżnej, cechy fizyko-chemiczne, ekwiwalent wodny
      • chemizm  świeżego śniegu w profilu hipsometrycznym
      • dwie automatyczne stacje meteorologiczne (strefa akumulacyjna i ablacyjna)
      • monitoring miąższości pokrywy śnieżnej z wykorzystaniem GPR (od 2011 roku)
    1. Ariedalen (N 77.0167°, E 15.4962°)

W latach 2007-2009, a od 2013 roku pomiary śniegu w dolinie Ariedalen odbywają się w ramach monitoringu środowiska prowadzonego przez Polską Stację Polarną w Hornsundzie.

roczny bilans Lodowca Arie: pomiar tyczek ablacyjnych we wrześniu oraz w maksimum akumulacji.

pomiar miąższości i gęstości śniegu w dolinie Ariedalen i na Lodowcu Arie wykonywany raz w sezonie w latach 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015.

chemizm pokrywy śnieżnej – wraz z pomiarem miąższości i gęstości śniegu pobierane są próbki śniegu na określenie składu chemicznego. W tym celu wykonywane są szurfy śnieżne w profilu pionowym lodowca. W laboratorium chemicznym Polskiej Stacji Polarnej Hornsund wykonuje się analizy chemiczne

    1. Chemizm opadów:

Śnieg zbiera się po każdym opadzie. Następnie analizy chemiczne według następującej kolejności:

      1. wykonywanie pomiarów podstawowych parametrów fizyko-chemicznych (pomiar przewodnictwa el. właściwego i pH) w próbach opadów atmosferycznych natychmiast po ich pobraniu (próby śniegu należy stopić w temperaturze pokojowej) przed i po filtrowaniu,
      2. przefiltrowanie przez filtr membranowy 0.45 μm w szklanym zestawie do sączenia Millipore i przelanie próbki do opisanego pojemnika, zabezpieczenie filtra,
      3. wykonanie analizy kationów i anionów na chromatografie jonowym,
      4. wykonanie analizy zasadowości,
      5. wykonanie bilansu jonowego,
      6. zabezpieczenie próbek i zmagazynowanie ich w ciemnym i chłodnym miejscu (próbki 60 ml) – na wypadek potrzeby wykonania powtórnych lub dodatkowych analiz lub ewentualnego wysłania próbek do kraju.
Stacja Polarna Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego im. Stanisława Baranowskiego (Baranówka)

Stacja Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, założona w 1972 roku, usytuowana na przedpolu Lodowca Werenskiolda,  w odległości 16 km na NW od Stacji PAN. Transport drogą morską a obecnie łatwość badań zimowych w oparciu o transport skuterami śnieżnymi z PSP.

Badania prowadzone głównie w sezonie letnim:

    • bilans masy lodowca
    • hydrologia i chemizm wód lodowcowych
    • geomorfologia strefy marginalnej lodowca
    • ruchy masowe, soliflukcja
    • warunki meteorologiczne na lodowcu i przedpolu lodowca (klimat lokalny)
Stacja Uniwersytetu Adama Mickiewicza (AMUPS)

Badania Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu w otoczeniu zatoki Petunia (Billefjorden) zapoczątkowane zostały w latach 1980. Stacja Polarna UAM (AMU Polar Station, AMUPS) zyskała swoją ostateczną lokalizację na zachodnim brzegu zatoki latem 2015 roku. AMUPS znajduje się kilka kilometrów od opuszczonej rosyjskiej kopalni Pyramiden, co czyni ją łatwo dostępną, szczególnie w sezonie letnim, gdy do Pyramiden kursują codziennie statki turystyczne. Stacja składa się z 3 domków o łącznej powierzchni 40 m2 i może w niej przebywać jednocześnie ok. 10 osób.

Prace terenowe są wykonywane przede wszystkim w okresie lipiec-wrzesień, lecz również w sezonie wiosennym (kwiecień/maj). Badania prowadzone w oparciu o AMUPS dotyczą przede wszystkim geomorfologii, glacjologii, hydrologii i wieloletniej zmarzliny, choć realizowane są także projekty interdyscyplinarne, włączające m.in. zagadnienia biologiczne. W latach 2010-2015 głównymi obiektami badań były lodowce Sven (4 km2) i Pollock (1 km2). Dla obu z nich zebrano w tym okresie dane m.in. o wielkości zimowej akumulacji śniegu i jej uwarunkowaniach, rocznym bilansie masy, topoklimacie i hydrologii.

Stacja Uniwersytetu Marii Curie Skłodowskiej (CALIPSO)

Stacja Polarna UMCS zlokalizowana jest w obrębie kompleksu budynków osady górniczej Calypsobyen. Na początku XX wieku rejon Bellsundu był jednym z głównych obszarów działalności założonej w 1910 roku firmy NEC (Northern Exploration Company), która podejmowała tutaj próby wydobycia węgla i innych kopalin. Calypsobyen stanowi skansen budownictwa przemysłowego z początku XX wieku. Obecnie osada składa się z drewnianych zabudowań zachowanych w różnym stanie. Na mocy pozwolenia Gubernatora Svalbardu, od 1986 roku zabudowania w Calypsobyen są bazą główną Wypraw Polarnych Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej. Obszar pomiędzy Dunderdalen a Malbuktą, odgraniczony umownie od południa równoleżnikiem 78°26’ i wodami Bellsundu od północy, to obszar górski, silnie rozczłonkowany przez doliny wypełnione lodowcami, zajmujący część NW regionu zwanego Wedel Jarlsberg Land. W części dolin lodowce są lepiej rozwinięte (Renardbreen, Scottbreen) i czasem wypełniają je całkowicie (Recherchebreen), a niektóre doliny są już prawie w całości wolne od lodu i odsłaniają swoje rozległe, płaskie dna (Dunderdalen, Chamberlindalen).

Badania ekspedycyjne prowadzone są zasadniczo w sezonie letnim i obejmują:

  • obserwacje meteorologiczne jako tło do analiz i opracowywania innych zagadnień szczegółowych;
  • zmiany geometrii i zasięgu czół lodowców – Scottbreen, Renardbreen, Blomlibreen, Cramerbreane, Recherchebreen;
  • bilans śnieżny i chemizm pokrywy śnieżnej lodowców – Scottbreen, Renardbreen, Blomlibreen, Cramerbreane, Recherchebreen;
  • hydrologię (bilans wodny) i hydrochemię wód proglacjalnych i proniwalnych – Scottelva, Renardelva, Chamderlinelva;
  • badania czynnej warstwy zmarzliny w kontekście aktywności procesów geomorfologicznych (ruchy masowe, soliflikcja);
  • określenie wpływu różnych typów zlodzenia wybrzeża na transformację strefy brzegowej i redystrybucję materiału wywołane falowaniem, pływami i prądami morskimi.
  • jakościowe i ilościowe określenie znaczenia poligenetycznego lodu brzegowego dla ochrony i odbudowy wybrzeży polarnych
Stacja Polarna Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika

Stacja Polarna Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika została założona w 1975 roku i usytuowana jest w zachodniej części Ziemi Oskara II (Oscar II Land), w północnej części nadmorskiej niziny Kaffiøyra, graniczącej od zachodu z cieśniną Forland. Zlokalizowano ją w rejonie Heggodden, około 150 metrów od brzegu morskiego, u podstawy moren czołowych Lodowca Aavatsmarka.

Badania prowadzone głównie w sezonie letnim (glacjologia, geomorfologia, meteorologia,  hydrografia, wieloletnia zmarzlina, botanika, gleby).

Od 1996 roku regularne badania glacjologiczne i warstwy czynnej zmarzliny:

  • Lodowiec Waldemara 78.67796º N 12.058421º E, 2,47 km2 (od  1996 roku)
  • Lodowiec Ireny 78.663574º N 12.119139º E, 4,05 km2 (od 2002 roku)
  • Lodowiec Elizy 78.648506º N 12.249668º E, 10,17 km2 (lata 2005-2013)
  • Tundra regionu Kaffiøyry (od 1996 roku w wybranych sezonach)

Pomiary wykonywane pod koniec kwietnia lub w pierwszej połowie maja każdego sezonu, w ostatnim okresie zimowej akumulacji śniegu, a także w sezonie letnim.

Rozkład przestrzenny akumulacji śniegu – Pomiary głębokości śniegu w każdym sezonie wykonywano w około 100-150 punktach, co dało bardzo dokładny obraz zróżnicowania przestrzennego zimowej akumulacji. Punkty znajdowały się stosunkowo blisko siebie, gdyż zróżnicowanie miąższości jest często bardzo duże, głównie ze względu na topografię i warunki anemologiczne. Lokalizację punktów pomiarów określano na podstawie pomiarów geodezyjnych i odbiornikiem GPS, a następnie nanoszono na mapę topograficzną lodowca w skali 1:10 000. Bazowymi punktami pomiarowymi są tyczki ablacyjne.

Głównym celem badań było/jest określenie zasobów wody w śniegu i ocena przychodowej części równania ich bilansu masy, które nieprzerwanie prowadzone są od 1996 roku. Częścią tych badań są pomiary ablacji lodowców w każdym sezonie letnim w oparciu o sieć tyczek ablacyjnych.                                       

Profile śniegowe – analiza wybranych cech fizycznych pokrywy śnieżnej. Głównie dotyczyło to struktury, rodzaju uziarnienia i twardości (zwartości) śniegu. Określano jego gęstość i zapasy wody (wiosną i latem), jak również temperaturę na różnych głębokościach. Wszystkie elementy i stratyfikację warstw w każdym profilu opisywano i przedstawiono graficznie zgodnie ze standardami proponowanymi przez Międzynarodową Komisję Śniegu i Lodu (ICSI).

W niektórych sezonach wykonywano pomiary konduktywności oraz pH.

Wieloletnia zmarzlina – badania wieloletniej zmarzliny ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem roli pokrywy śnieżnej na tempo i wielkość jej odmarzania prowadzone od roku 1975, a systematyczne od roku 1996. Dotyczą przede wszystkim wielkości sezonowego odmarzania gruntu (miąższości warstwy czynnej i jej dynamiki), a także jej termiki (Sobota i Nowak 2014). Objęte pomiarami punkty reprezentują charakterystyczne dla regionu Kaffiøyry formy rzeźby: piaszczystą plażę, równinę tundrową i wał morenowy.

Hydrologia – badania hydrologiczne, głównie odpływu z lodowców prowadzone od 1975 roku. Od roku 1996 stałe punkty pomiarowe w Rzece Waldemara (m.in. natężenie przepływu, transport zawiesiny, temperatura, konduktywność).

S/Y „Oceania”

Instytut Oceanologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk jest właścicielem i armatorem żaglowego statku badawczego r/v „Oceania”.

R/v „Oceania” jest jedynym polskim statkiem badawczym przystosowanym do prowadzenia badań oceanograficznych w szerokim zakresie fizyki, chemii, ekologii i biologii morza na nieograniczonych akwenach i wyposażonym w nowoczesne laboratoria (chemiczne, spektroskopowe, komputerowe), unikatową aparaturę naukową (próbniki osadów dennych, czujniki optyczne i akustyczne, urządzenia do poboru wody morskiej) i instalacje pokładowe umożliwiające prowadzenie pomiarów oceanograficznych do głębokości 5000 m. Wyposażenie odpowiada współczesnym standardom światowym.

Każdego roku „Oceania” spędza 230-270 dni na morzu, w tym około 80 dni na Morzach Nordyckich i Spitsbergenie (czerwiec-sierpień), wykonując kilkanaście rejsów na Morzu Bałtyckim oraz rejs w rejony Arktyki Europejskiej. Wyprawy te związane są z większością prac badawczych własnych oraz programów międzynarodowych, w których uczestniczy IO PAN.

Polski Svalbardzki Program Śnieżny – pdf