Different aspects of permafrost were investigated in 2013 in three areas: on Spitsbergen, in northern Sweden and on King George Island (Antarctica).
On Spitsbergen, permafrost research during the summer season of 2013 was conducted by the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (in Petuniabukta, Billefjorden) and the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (on the Kaffiøyra Plain). Both universities’ research teams were supported by National Science Center funds within two projects: Cryosphere reactions against the background of environmental changes in contrasting high-Arctic conditions on Svalbard (led by Grzegorz Rachlewicz), and Contemporary and historical changes in the Svalbard climate and topoclimates (led by Rajmund Przybylak).


In Petuniabukta, shallow ground temperature and humidity profilers, equipped with data-loggers for year-round registration, were set up in the centre of 100x100 m test fields for active layer-thickness measurements according to CALM guidelines. The test fields are differentiated in terms of moisture content. One was dry, and set up on a raised marine terrace which thawed, on average, to 128 cm. The other was wet, set up on a proglacial river terrace with an active layer thickness well below 145 cm. Observations of periglacial processes were supported with ground-based thermal imaging in various scales (from meters to kilometres) and Terra/Aqua satellites MODIS land surface temperature analyses for the period 2000-2013, showing statistically significant rising tendencies on most of the surfaces types (especially the fjord, its coasts and glaciers at ELA). For the last few years, aeolian activity in the region has been monitored for both its erosive and accumulative features.
In Kaffiøyra, measurements of the depth of the active layer of permafrost, its thermal conditions and dynamics were carried out at the CALM project’s Site P2 (A-C), located near the Nicolaus Copernicus University’s station (Fig. 1). In addition, the same tests were also performed at two independent test sites (100x100 m), again following CALM project rules. At every test site, temperature and humidity sensors were installed at various depths (temperature sensors at 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 cm; humidity sensors at 5 and 10 cm), and connected to data-loggers. Measurements were taken of the ground-thaw rate and the thickness of the active permafrost layer at all sites, every 7-10 days in July and August. The ground temperature at Site P2 was measured at standard depths of 0-2 m in the same three different ecotopes – as were the active layer depth measurements – at the beach, the tundra, and the moraine (see Fig. 1). For this purpose, both mercury thermometers (readings taken every 6 hours, only in summer) and automatic temperature loggers (registration every 10 minutes, year-round) were installed at the measurement sites.


Figure 1. The location of the Nicolaus Copernicus University Polar Station in Kaffiøyra (NW Spitsbergen) and CALM Site P2, where active layer depth and ground temperature measurements were taken. P2A – beach, P2B – tundra, and P2C – moraine (photo by A. Araźny).


At King George Island (Antarctica), ground temperature measurements near the Henryk Arctowski Station were made at depths of 5, 20, 50 and 70 cm in two months (January and February) of the austral summer season. Ground thermal conditions, at hourly resolutions, were recorded with HOBO automatic loggers.


Figure 2. Automatic weather station and HOBO automatic loggers near the Henryk Arctowski Station (photo by I. Sobota).


Field research on the glacier’s permafrost interaction was conducted on Storglaciaren and its forefield in the Tarfala area of northern Sweden (Fig. 3). Research was performed with National Science Centre support, granted to the project lead by Wojciech Dobiński of the  University of Silesia. GPR (ground penetrating radar) survey with 100 and 200 MHz antennas gave an insight into the glacier’s cold and warm ice, as well as its CTS (Cold-temperate Transition Surface). The presence of rock sediments, moraine inclusions and other forms of sedimentation in and on the glacier were also detected. Research on underground ice and active layer depth was conducted on the forefield of the glacier. The support of the Tarfala Scientific Station is kindly acknowledged.



Figure 3. GPR measurements on Storglaciaren, Kebnekaise, northern Sweden, (Photo by W. Dobiński)




Araźny A., Kejna M., Sobota I., 2013, Ground temperature at the Henryk Arctowski Station (King George Island, Antarctic) – case study from the period of January 2012 to February 2013. Bulletin of Geography, Physical Geography Series 6: 59-80.
Dolnicki P., Grabiec M., Puczko D., Gawor Ł. Budzik T., Klementowski J., 2013, Variability of temperature and thickness of permafrost active layer at coastal sites of Svalbard, Polish Polar Research 34:353–374.
Sobota I., 2013, Recent changes of cryosphere of north-western Spitsbergen based on Kaffiøyra region. Wydawnictwo UMK. Toruń, pp. 450 (in Polish, extended abstract available).
Sobota I., Araźny A., Barcikowski A., Birkenmajer K., Grześ M., Gugnacka-Fiedor W., Lankauf R.K., Plichta W., Przybylak R. and Zubel P., 2013. Geographical environment in the vicinity of the Nicolaus Copernicus University. In: Zwoliński Z., Kostrzewski A. and Pulina M. (eds), Ancient and modern geoecosystems of Spitsbergen, Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Poznań,181-204.


Report prepared by Rajmund Przybylak (rp11@umk.pl)