Research on the J.G.M. station

The Czech Republic started becoming involved in polar research in the mid–1980s. At that time, the first polar expedition dealing with climatology and geomorphology was carried out in Spitsbergen (Svalbard archipelago). Since 1994, scientists and academics from the Faculty of Science of the Masaryk University have been invited to participate in polar research in the Antarctic. Czech scientists and academic have carried out research at several Antarctic stations – for example, they completed research stays at the Polish Polar Station Henryk Arctowski and at the Machu Picchu Peruvian Station, both located on King George Island. Czech scientists also had the opportunity to conduct research on Galindez Island, where the Ukrainian Antarctic Station Akademik Vernadsky is situated. In 2006, when the Johann Gregor Mendel Station was finally completed, the Czech polar research team moved to the Czech station on James Ross Island.

Czech Antarctic Research Program and Czech Antarctic Station

Polar Regions – The Arctic and the Antarctic hold interest for many researchers due to their ability to stabilize global climate and their role in the global climate balance, and therefore they could be important in climate change. Both regions are significantly affected by global warming, therefore, researchers are focusing on Polar Regions research.

At the beginning, emphasis was placed particularly on the selection of an area suitable to build the Czech Antarctic Station. The main aim was to find a convenient locality allowing all Czech polar experts and scientists to conduct research in Antarctica in the field of geology, meteorology, climatology, geomorphology, biology, etc. In the end, the Czech Antarctic Station was built on the Northern coast of James Ross Island. Afterwards, the Johann Gregor Mendel Station started being used by leading polar explorers and scientists from Czech institutions (Faculty of Science – Masaryk University, Faculty of Science – University of South Bohemia, Czech Geological Survey, Institute of Botany, Institute of Geology, Biology Centre of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic, and Czech Technical University in Prague).

James Ross Island is about 2.600 square kilometers in area and only the northern part is deglaciated; in any case, it is one of the biggest “Antarctic coastal oases”. James Ross Islands is surrounded by numerous small islands that can be considered potential areas for future research. James Ross Island is located on the Eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The clash of two air masses with differing temperatures and moisture levels (oceanic and continental air masses) over the Antarctic Peninsula leads to considerable climatic variability in the vicinity of the Czech Antarctic Station. The specific climatic conditions mentioned above affect the structure, function and development of local ecosystems. The process of deglaciation is geologically relatively young (it has taken about 6.000 years) and is still continuing in the northern part of James Ross Island, which gives scientists the opportunity to study past and present glacier mass balance changes (shelf glacier and continental glacier), gradual relief transformation and subsequent colonization of recently deglaciated areas by biota (consequences of global warming for biological diversity).

Partial research programs realized at the Johann Gregor Mendel Station

No permanent research activities have yet been conducted on James Ross Island. So far, there have been few expedition teams. General geological and botanical research was carried out by British and Swedish scientists. Over the last fifteen years, short–term expeditions by Argentinean geologists have taken place on James Ross Island during summer time. Therefore, the main aim of Czech research is to carry out complex studies of relatively young deglaciated areas situated on the Antarctic coast – the so–called “coastal oasis”. The scientific programme includes fields of Earth Sciences (geology, geomorphology, palaeontology, geochemistry and analytical chemistry, climatology, and hydrology), and a number of biological disciplines (in particular botany, ecology, eco–physiology, plant stress physiology, microbiology, and soil biology).

Overview of the main topics of research:

• Study of volcanites of James Ross Island, igneous rocks of the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula and the dynamic of convergent plate boundaries in the Antarctic islands area
• Study of the Quaternary geological evolution of James Ross Island
• Study of climatic change and its consequences (glacier retreat, permafrost degradation, change in plant species diversity and eco–physiological adaptation) 
• Study of the spatiotemporal variability of UV radiation in dependence on atmospheric factors
• Study of the ecology and stress physiology of cyanobacteria, algae, lichens and mosses
• Study of the biodiversity of soil biota and their physiology adaptations

The research conducted by scientists from the Faculty of Science is currently focused on:

• Glacier research (dynamics and mass balance changes affected by global warming and climate change)
• Study of climatic conditions in deglaciated areas (8 automatic weather stations located on sites where the typical ecosystem of James Ross Island is found, 1 automatic weather station on Seymour Island, 1 automatic weather station on the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula in the area of Camp Hill)
• Study of components of global radiation, including UV–B radiation measurements and simulations
• Long–term experiment simulating the local effects of global warming focusing on plant response to increased temperature (open top chambers installed on the coast, on the top of table mountain (mesa) and on the glacier forefront)
• Continuous “in situ” measurements of photosynthesis of Antarctic mosses and lichens with the aid of special instruments (fluorometers) and measurements of microclimatological variables
• Study of the widespread distribution of autotrophic (mosses, lichens, algae and cyanobacteria) and heterotrophic (fungi) organisms in dependence on ecological factors, as well as study of their adaptation to extreme conditions
• Monitoring of biological activity in lakes with the aid of temperature measurements and the concentration of dissolved oxygen 

Projects realization

The overview of projects resulted in the construction of Czech Antarctic Research Station and currently running scientific programmes:

Construction of the Czech scientific station in the Antarctica – programme LA INGO 118 founded by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (1999-2006). Project holder and contractor: Masaryk University.

Czech scientific station in Antarctica – putting into operation – programme LA INGO 271 founded by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (2006). Project holder and contractor: Masaryk University.

Ecology of the coastal vegetation – research project of the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, MSM 143100007 (1999-2004). Project holder and contactor: Masaryk University.

The effect of atmospheric factors on the regime of UV radiation in the region of Antarctic Peninsula – research project founded by the Czech Science Foundation, GA205/07/1377 (2007-2009). Project holder and contractor: Masaryk University.

Multidisciplinary study of Antarctic terrestrial vegetation within the IPY framework –programme ME-945 KONTAKT founded by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (2007-2009). Project holder and contactor: Masaryk University; project participant: Institute of Botany of the Academy of Science of the Czech Republic.

Recent deglaciation of the northern part of James Ross Island, Antarctica – research project of Czech Science Foundation, GA205/09/1876 (2009-2012). Project holder and contractor: Masaryk University; project participant: Czech Geological Survey.

CzechPolar – Czech Polar Stations: Construction and management – programme LM2010009 (2010-2015) founded by the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Project holder and contractor: Masaryk University.  


Czech Polar Reports (An Interdisciplinary Journal)

The mission of Czech Polar Reports  is to stimulate physical, chemical, biological research in polar regions and publish high-quality papers covering a wide range of fields. The journal scope is

  • polar paleontology
  • geology
  • geochemistry
  • geomorphology
  • glaciology
  • climatology
  • hydrology
  • pedology
  • biochemistry
  • ecology
  • environmental science
  • microbiologyall disciplines of plant and animal biology

The main emphasis is given originality and multidisciplinarity of the papers, The papers on the above-specified subject areas must fit one of the below forms:

  • Full papers
  • Short Communications
  • Technical Notes
  • Critical Reviews
  • Book Reviews 

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