During 2003 studies of geoecosystems were carried out throughout the year at the permanent polar stations of the Polish Academy of Sciences, i.e. the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund (Spitsbergen, Svalbard) and the Polish H. Arctowski Station on King George Island (South Shetlands, Western Antarctic). During the summer the university stations situated on the west coast of Spitsbergen were operated.

The investigations are included in the “Arctic and Antarctic Research Programme of Poland 2002–2010” under the Committee on Polar Research, Polish Academy of Sciences. The objective is to evaluate mechanisms of natural processes occurring in the periglacial environments associated with glaciers and the coastal zone. The main interests focused on the response of polar geoecosystems to changes of climate and the effect of human factors. Among the subjects concerning permafrost, the dynamics and thickness of the active layer are the most important. The studies were conducted at the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund, in the Kaffioyra area and in Billefjorden.

Results from the Recherche Fiord region by the M. Curie-Sködowska University in Lublin were presented at the 8th ICOP. The hydrological dynamics and retention of water in a permafrost environment (S. Bartoszewski) and the spatial and temporal variations of active layer thickness (J. Repelewska-Pekalowa & K. Pekala) are associated with the CALM programme (Calypsostranda site).

The XXIX International Polar Symposium was held on September 19–20, 2003, at the Jagiellonian University, Cracow, which is one of the oldest universities in Europe in one of the oldest cities in Poland. This annual meeting of members of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society provides the opportunity to present the latest research results, exchange experiences, and meet members of the polar community.

This year the Annual Geomorphological Workshops took place on Spitsbergen, organised by the Polish Geomorphologists Association in cooperation with the Maritime Academy in Gdynia and the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Workshops’ programme included discussions of geomorphological studies carried out by various Polish universities and visits to the stations at: Kaffioyra, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruñ; Petuniabukta region, the Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznañ; Calypsobyen, Maria Curie-Sködowska University, Lublin; Stanislaw Baranowski station in the forefield of Werenskiold Glacier, Wroçlaw University and Silesia University; and Hornsund, the Polish Polar Station, Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences.

Kazimierz Pekala (