Polish research carried out on Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and in the upper parts of the High Tatra Mountains in 2004 focused on permafrost, contemporary morphogenetic processes and periglacial relief, and constitutes a part to the research programmes dedicated to the impact of climate change on the abiotic components of the environment.

Research on Spitsbergen was conducted in the region of Polish Polar Station in Hornsund on Oscar II Land (close to the station of Nicholas Copernicus University of Toruñ) and in Billefjorden (Petuniabukta), i.e. where former research has been conducted by the Adam Mickiewicz University of Pozña. The projects dealt with thermal air currents and dynamics of active layer- permafrost layer, geomorphological processes and matter circulation in the periglacial and glacial geoecosystems. Research in the High Tatra Mountains aimed at reconstructing climatic changes and geomorphological processes above tree line, from the Little Ice Age to the present day, as well as at documenting the presence of permafrost at elevations around 2000 m asl.

The Workshop “Glaciology, geomorphology and sedimentology of the Spitsbergen polar environment” was organized on Spitsbergen in July 2004 by the Arctic Commission of the Committee on Polar Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Geomorphologists Association. Participants attending from Poland, France, Slovenia and the Czech Republic discussed cryosphere issues in the Recherchefjord area (Bellsund, Calypsostranda, i.e. the location of the station of the Maria Curie-Sködowska University in Lublin), in the Kaffioyra coastal plain (station of the Nicholas Copernicus University of Toruñ) and in the Magdalenefiord region (NW Spitsbergen). This workshop led to the publication of a special guidebook, available also in an electronic format, which is based on the results of many years of research in Spitsbergen.

Several scientific conferences dealing with periglacial topics were held in 2004 in Poland. In June 2004, the 53rd Congress of the Polish Geographical Society was organized by the Maria Curie-Sködowska University in Lublin. Some papers in the session “Geomorphological problems of various morphoclimatic zones” presented research results from Spitsbergen on topics such as active layer dynamics and hydrological and geomorphological processes in marginal glaciers zones. In September 2004, the XXX International Polar Symposium, which is also the annual meeting of the Polar Club of the Polish Geographical Society, was organized in Gdynia by the Department of Meteorology and Nautical Oceanography of the Gdynia Maritime Academy. Latest results in Polish Arctic and Antarctic research were presented. Conference Proceedings were published with abstracts of presentations; some of these papers will be published in English in the journal Polish Polar Research (www.polish.polar. pan.pl).

Following the suggestion of the Committee on Polar Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the research project “Structure, evolution and dynamics of lithosphere, cryosphere and biosphere in the Antarctic and the European Arctic” will be carried out in 2004–2007, leading the Polish polar research that will arise in the context of the International Polar Year 2007–2008. One of its main topics is the response of glaciers and permafrost to global change.

Kazimierz Pekala (geomorf@biotop.umcs.lublin.