Russian Scientists Complete Seasonal Work on Svalbard

Архипелаг Шпицберген, район поселка Баренцбург. Фото: Виталий Новиков, участник конкурса РГО "Самая красивая страна"

Specialists from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) conducted comprehensive studies of the natural environment and perfected the satellite transmission method of temperature data on the state of frozen rocks on the Svalbard archipelago. In the future, the results of the seasonal work in 2022, which lasted six months, will be used to create a Russian permafrost monitoring system.

The scientists took data from operating thermometric stations in the area of the settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden, measured the thickness of the seasonal thaw depth of the permafrost layer, and investigated the state of the permafrost landforms of Western Svalbard Island. The data was transferred to the international CALM system (Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring). In addition to the existing observation network, the AARI specialists drilled a test well with a depth of 25.5 m. This will help to develop technologies for creating permafrost monitoring points. Devices capable of transmitting temperature data via satellite communication are installed in the well for remote monitoring of the soil condition. The cores obtained from the well are then used to study the development and transformation of permafrost on Svalbard.


Ледник в районе посёлка Пирамида, Шпицберген. Фото: Анастасия Чеснокова, участник конкурса РГО "Самая красивая страна"

"The work was carried out as part of a large-scale task of organizing a network of monitoring observations of the state of permafrost zones on the territory of the Russian Federation. The network deployment will begin next year. The first monitoring points are planned to be created in the Altai Territory, Western Siberia, and Transbaikalia. In the period from 2023 to 2025, specialists from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute are planning to deploy more than 140 monitoring points to observe the state of permafrost rocks in Russia," the AARI report says.

Also during the seasonal expedition to Svalbard, the scientists conducted hydrological studies in the catchments of eight rivers. They collected data from the stage of snow accumulation and snowmelt to the autumn flood. This work will allow to assess the flow of fresh water and suspended sediment into the ocean. At the same time, experimental measurements of evaporation from the surface of the snow cover were carried out.

The study of the state of glaciers in the area of the settlements of Barentsburg and Pyramiden included ablation(mass reduction) monitoring, geophysical studies of their internal structure and subglacial bed. The peculiarities of the thermal balance in winter and summer periods were studied on the surface of glaciers. The data obtained are used to build models of melting of the surface of glaciers.

The oceanographic segment of the seasonal work included measurements of the properties of the water column of the fjords. The work was done from the shore ice and from a ship. The goal is to study the distribution of Atlantic waters in these narrow and winding sea bays.

"The selected seawater samples were analyzed to assess the carbon cycle, the distribution of biogenic components, and the activity of phytoplankton. Also, one submerged buoy station, which conducts measurements in the water column during the year, was raised," the AARI noted.


Архипелаг Шпицберген, район поселка Баренцбург. Фото: Виталий Новиков, участник конкурса РГО "Самая красивая страна"

In addition, the scientists conducted field studies and sampling of quaternary sediments in the lakes of the Barentsburg area and on Oscar II Land. Based on the data obtained, it will be possible to learn more about the climate and landscapes of the distant past. A huge amount of the material collected by the expedition will be analyzed in Russian laboratories.

In cooperation with the Northwest Branch of the Typhoon Research and Production Association, AARI scientists conducted background and local pollution monitoring in the Barentsburg and Pyramiden areas. Samples of snow, sea, river and soil waters, the soils themselves, marine sediments, water suspension, and plants were taken here. The samples were tested for the presence of persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.

The Russian scientific Arctic expedition on the Svalbard archipelago conducts year-round and seasonal scientific research and observations, which include the study of glaciers, the distribution and dynamics of permafrost, oceanographic processes in the waters of fjords, monitoring of the hydrological regime of rivers and lakes, geophysical and special meteorological work. The planned tasks are performed by polar explorers staying for the winter, as well as participants in annual seasonal work. In total, more than 50 scientists work at the station every year.