In the summer of 2010 the geologists from the Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute made a very important and interesting discovery on permafrost: Boreholes drilled in the north-eastern part of Poland in the vicinity of Suwałki (sites borehole in Udyń and Szypliszki) near the Polish-Lithuanian border showed that at the depth of 356 metres there was a layer which temperature was only +0.07°C!

This was probably (until recently) permafrost which has survived since the Pleistocene. According to information given by Prof. Jerzy Nawrocki, the Director of Polish Geological Institute (PGI) and Prof. Jan Szewczyk who heads the research project the thickness of the layer was of several metres. This potentially recently thawed permafrost probably dates back to 13000 years BP. This discovery is of significant importance. This is the only place in Central Europe where such permafrost was found. The investigations are currently being carried out to understand more on the origin of the permafrost layer. This discovery was the subject of a press conference and information about it is published at the website of Polish Geological Institute: http://www.pgi.gov.pl/archiwum-aktualnosci-instytutu/2728

The activity of Polish researchers of permafrost and periglacial processes in the polar zone focused on several issues in 2010. Monitoring of permafrost active layer and periglacial processes was continued on Spitsbergen close to the Polish Polar Station of the Geophysics Institute of Polish Academy of Sciences in Hornsund and at the seasonal bases in other parts of Spitsbergen used by the explorers from the Polish universities (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, University of Wroclaw and University of Silesia).

The results linked to investigations of permafrost and periglacial phenomena were presented at several conferences:

  • III European Conference on Permafrost (EUCOP III), June 13-17, 2010, Svalbard, Norway (R.Przybylak, A.Arazny, M.Kejna: „Diversity of ground temperatures of the Kaffiöyra Plain, NW Spitsbergen in the Summer period (1975-2009)”
  • XXXIII Polar Symposium of the Polar Club and Committee for Polar Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, June 18-19 , 2010, which was held at University of Lodz, organized by the Department of Invertebrate Zoology and Hydrobiology, Faculty of Biology and Environmental Protection (summaries of the papers are on the website: http://invertebrates.uni.lodz.pl/?p+2185 )

In October 2010, very interesting conference took place in Lublin „International Collaboration and Competition in the Arctic Region at the Beginning of the XXI Century”, which brought together a large number of scientists representing both social and natural sciences. The organizer of this conference was the Department of International Relations, Faculty of Political Sciences, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists.

Kazimierz Pękala (kazimierz.pekala@interia.pl)