The polar regions are extraordinary, magical places. They are cold, windy, inaccessible, ice-clad for most of the year, and yet still teeming with life.
What is it about them that attracts so many enthusiasts, scientists, and people willing to spend months there? Is it a thirst for adventure? Or the opportunity to discover the secrets of nature, practically untouched by humans? Why do Pole scientists so eagerly choose these regions as the target of their research? And why is it that, although we are physically so far away, we Poles do feel so much a part of the polar family?
It was sixty years ago that the Polish Polar Station, Hornsund, was established near the Polar Bear Bay at Hornsund Fjord on Spitsberegen, the largest island of the Hornsund Archipelago. It was founded by an expedition led by Stanisław Siedlecki, and to this day, managed by the PAS Institute of Geophysics, it serves both Polish and international polar researchers. A second Polish research station was established forty years ago on Admiralty Bay on King George Island in the South Shetland Archipelago, now managed by the PAS Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics. If we include all the work conducted at sea from the research vessel S/Y Oceania maintained by the PAS Institute of Oceanology, it is undeniable that the Polish Academy of Sciences has become a truly global player in the field of polar research.
This rich infrastructure and the enthusiasm of many extraordinary people have contributed to the advancement of many scientific fields in Poland. Our polar explorers are renowned throughout the world and are the pioneers behind many discoveries you will read about in the following pages. This is fostered by the collaboration of scientists from more than twenty academic centers and research institutes. Thanks to this enormous potential, Polish scholars participate in many international programs, often coordinating them, and indeed it is at the Polish stations where numerous young scholars from all over the world are taking their first professional steps. We offer excellent opportunities for junior scientists. It was in Poland that a unique interdisciplinary doctoral program was created, enabling students to study the natural environment of the Arctic and Antarctic. The Centre for Polar Studies, which currently holds the title of a Leading National Research Centre, was established for this purpose.
This anniversary date, 60 years after Poland began its polar station tradition, offers a great opportunity to talk about amazing places and incredible people. Here’s hoping the articles in this special issue will help spread the word about fascinating polar research and the enthusiastic people doing it.
Paweł Rowiński, Vice-President of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Table of Contents:
Prof. Piotr Głowacki
The View From the North
Asst. Prof. Robert Bialik
The View From the South
Prof. Jacek Jania
Prestige from Pole to Pole
Agnieszka Kruszewska, MS
Asst. Prof. Agnieszka Skorupa
Alone Amidst the Snow
Asst. Prof. Michał Łuszczuk
“On” and “For” Four Million
Dagmara Bożek-Andryszczak, MA
Piotr Andryszczak, ME
Cold But Fascinating Years
- The "Stanisław Siedlecki" Polish Polar Station in Hornsund (Photo: Piotr Andryszczak)
- The "Henryk Arctowski" Polish Antarctic Station (Photo: Piotr Andryszczak)