Specialists of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) conducted comprehensive studies of the natural environment and developed the technology for satellite transmission of temperature data on the state of frozen rocks in the Svalbard archipelago. In the future, the results of the 2022 seasonal work, which lasted six months, will be used to create the Russian permafrost monitoring system.
Scientists took data from existing thermometric stations near the villages of Barentsburg and Pyramiden, measured the thickness of the seasonally thawed permafrost layer and studied the state of permafrost landforms on the island of Western Spitsbergen. The data were transferred to the international CALM system (program Circumpolar active layer monitoring). In addition to the already existing monitoring network, AARI specialists drilled a test well 25.5 m deep. It will be used to develop technologies for creating permafrost monitoring points. For remote monitoring of the state of the soil, devices are installed in the well that can transmit temperature data via satellite communications. The cores obtained from the well are subsequently used to study the development and transformation of permafrost in Svalbard.
“The work was carried out as part of a large-scale task to organize a network of monitoring observations of the state of permafrost zones in the Russian Federation. The network will be deployed as early as 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 in Russia are planning to deploy more than 140 observation points for the state of permafrost,” — noted in the message AARI.
Also during the seasonal expedition to Svalbard, scientists conducted hydrological studies on the watersheds of eight rivers. They collected data from the stage of snow accumulation and snowmelt to the autumn flood. These works will make it possible to estimate the flow of fresh water and suspended sediments into the ocean. Simultaneously, 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 Pyramida included monitoring of ablation (mass reduction), geophysical studies of their internal structure and subglacial bed. On the surface of glaciers, the study of the features of the heat balance in winter and summer periods was carried out. The obtained data is used to build models of glacier surface melting.
The oceanographic block of seasonal work included measurements of the properties of the water column of the fjords. The work was carried out from landfast ice and from the ship. Their goal is to study the distribution of Atlantic waters in these narrow and winding sea bays.
“Selected seawater samples were analyzed to assess the carbon cycle, the distribution of nutrients and phytoplankton activity. Also, one submerged buoy station was raised, making measurements in the water column throughout the year”, — noted in AARI.
In addition, the scientists conducted field research and sampling of Quaternary sediments in lakes in the Barentsburg region 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 material collected by the expedition is to be analyzed in Russian laboratories.
In cooperation with the North-Western branch of the research and production association “Typhoon”, AARI scientists conducted background and local monitoring of pollution in the areas of Barentsburg and Pyramiden. Here, samples of snow, sea, river and soil waters, soils themselves, sea bottom sediments, water suspension and plants were taken. The samples were tested for persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.
The Russian Scientific Arctic Expedition in 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 fjords, monitoring the hydrological regime of rivers and lakes, geophysical and special meteorological work. Planned tasks are performed by polar explorers who stay for the winter, as well as participants in the annual seasonal work. In total, more than 50 scientists work at the station every year.