The authors describe the scope of Polish studies in the field of biology and ecology carried on during 20 years of activity of Polish Antarctic Station. Principal results are briefly summarized and ample literature is presented.
A total of sixty five taxa of marine phytoplankton (diatoms, dinoflagellates, silicoflagellates and cyanoprokaryotes) were recorded in the transect from the cold region of the Antarctic (Weddell Sea) up to La Plata Bay, Argentine in the late austral summer (March 1989). Diatoms were the dominant group in a south-north transect from the Seal-Bay (Princess Martha Land, the Antarctic). Most of the phytoplankton species of the cold Antarctic region disappeared around 50°S where there is a steep water temperature gradient. The diatom flora declined in the regions of increasing temperature, i.e. between 60° and 50° S and was replaced by dinoflagellates of the genus Ceratium. Large centric diatom genera Corethron, Rhizosolenia, Chaetoceros and Dactyliosolen represented the most apparent phytoplankton part. The most common of the small centric diatom genera were Thalassiosira, Asteromphalus, Actinocyclus and Coscinodiscus, while several species of Navicula and Nitzschia were the most abundant pennate forms. The presence of a considerable number of freshwater pennate diatoms, characterized as indifferent in the halobion spectrum and mostly periphytic, might be attributed to survival strategies during their development on the floating coastal ice.
Phytoplankton samples were collected at 141 stations in the Norwegian, Greenland, Barents and Baltic seas, in July-August 1992 and July-August 1993. In fifteen of these stations 22 unarmoured dinoflagellate species from the order Gymnodiniales belonging to the genera Amphidinium, Cochlodinium, Gymnodinium, Gyrodinium, Torodinium and Polykrikos have been found. Data on 16 species are given here, including synonyms, size or size variation, localities and environmental factors (temperature and salinity at the surface). 14 species are illustrated.
Suspended matter, phytoplankton and light attenuation were investigated in various North East Greenland, Svalbard and Siberian river mouths in 1992-1994. The amount of mineral suspensions well correlated with freshwater discharge in the case of tidal glacier bays, while such correlation in Siberian rivers and pack ice meltwater was not found. Freshwater phytoplankton species were found in Siberian estuaries only and in two other ecosystems marine and ice phytoplankton species prevailed. The light attenuation connected with freshwater discharge seems to be a key factor limiting primary production in coastal Actic waters in the summer. The amount of glacial suspensions well correlated with the salinity drop in the case of Svalbard, while Siberian river estuaries produced very turbid waters with the suspension loads not correlated to freshwater or depth.
This paper reports the preliminary results from the studies on the scanning electron microscopical studies on chrysophycean cysts collected in ponds and streams of King George Island (South Shetlands). The cysts play an important role as the survival developmental stages. Fifteen morphotypes are described, six of which are new for science. Particular attention has been paid to the anatomy of the pore, collar structure and to the ornamentation of the cyst surface.
The paper presents the results of seven-year survey of Antarctic seals along the western shore of Admiralty Bay, King George Island, South Shetland Islands. Five species were monitored during seven of the eight years, between 1988-95, excluding 1993. Numbers of elephant seals and Antarctic fur seals showed strong annual cycles, fur seals with two seasonal peaks. These of the other three species were more irregular. Fewer Weddell seals were seen in 1994 and 1995 then during the period 1988-92; with this exception, no overall trend in numbers was apparent during the period 1988-95.
Alongside the purely scientific nature and the first wintering in Antarctica, another innovative feature of the Belgica expedition was its multinational composition. Two, out of its seven persons strong scientific staff, were Polish - H. Arctowski and A. B. Dobrowolski. The first served as scientific deputy-leader of the expedition, the other as laboratory assistant and meteorologist. Their contribution to the scientific success of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition outlined in the present paper, turned into the starting point of brilliant academic careers in the native country and at international level. Both, Arctowski and Dobrowolski, were acknowledged as symbols of the Polish explorations and scientific investigations in polar regions.
The paper provides information on oceanobiological expeditions to the Antarctic organized by Polish Academy of Sciences. The scope of research of five expeditions is described and main achievements of Polish Antarctic studies are summarized.
Polish exploration and exploitation of marine resources of Antarctic waters date back to the reconnaissance cruise of the Sea Fisheries Institutes (SFI) r/v Profesor Siedlecki in 1974. Since 1975, a co-operation between the Institute of Ecology, Polish Academy of Sciences (PAS) at Dziekanów Leśny and SFI in Gdynia with participation of the University of Agriculture in Szczecin, Faculty Marine Fisheries and Food Technology (UA) was established. Fishing fleets of the Polish Deep-Sea Fisheries Companies Odra, Dalmor and Gryf, since 1976 were operating in the Atlantic sector of Antarctic waters, south of the convergence.
A. B. Dobrowolski, a member of the Belgian expedition in Belgica to West Antarctica (1897-1899), after his return home became a strong supporter of Polish scientific activity in the Polar countries. His patronage - called by him the "Polar Action", was especially well marked during organization of three Polish expeditions to the Svalbard archipelago: to Bear Island during the 2nd Polar Year, 1932-33 and to Spitsbergen in 1934 and 1938. Apart from his scientific achievements in Antarctica, Dobrowolski was also widely known as an author of popular-scientific books on history of discovery and exploration in the Arctic and the Antarctic.
During the Polish Geodynamic Expeditions to West Antarctica, 1984-1991, led by A. Guterch, the scientific research of the geological group (leader K. Birkenmajer) included stratigraphic, sedimentological, petrological, tectonic, volcanological and Quaternary geology studies. They were caried out mainly in the area of Antarctic Peninsula, Palmer Archipelago and South Shetland Islands (the results from King George Island have been reviewed separately, in 1996). The major scientific archievements are: (1) introduction of formal lithostrati-graphical standards, recognition of tectonic structure, and sedimentological characteristics of the Trinity Peninsula Group (?Upper Permian-Triassic) metasediments (Antarctic Peninsula: Hope Bay and Paradise Harbour; Livingston Island: Hurd Peninsula); (2) elaboration of Late Mesozoic-TTertiary magmatic successions (Antarctic Peninsula Volcanic Group and Andean Intrusive Suite) on northern Antarctic Peninsula (Hope Bay; Arctowski Peninsula; Paradise Harbour - Gerlache Strait); (3) together with geophysical group: elaboration of lithospheric transect from South Shetland Islands to Antarctic Peninsula; (4) elaboration of Late Cenozoic evolution stages of the Bransfield Basin and Rift, as based on geological and palaeontological record; (5) introduction of a revised volcanostratigraphic standard, and reconstruction of evolution stages, of the Deception Island volcano (South Shetland Islands); (6) reconstruction of the Holocene history in some areas of Antarctic Peninsula (Hope Bay) and South Shetland Islands (King George Island). The results of palaeontological and sedimentological research on Seymour and Cockburn islands (NE Antarctic Peninsula) were presented separately.
The paper presents a catalogue, with description, detailed map location and references to first publications, of new place names introduced mainly during the Polish Geodynamic Expeditions to West Antarctica, 1984-1991. In the South Shetland Islands, new place names were introduced in parts of King George Island and Deception Island (Some new names for Admiralty Bay, King George Island and Penguin Island, introduced prior to 1984 but not yet formally described, are also included here). In Antarctic Peninsula, new place names have been introduced at Hope Bay (Trinity Peninsula), Arctowski Peninsula-Andvord Bay (Danco Coast/Gerlache Strait) and Paradise Harbour (Danco Coast).
In general, Antarctic marine bacteria are small, with biovolumes ranging from 0.139 to 0.204 μm-3 cell-1, but their total biomass in seawater is considerable due to relatively high numbers that approximate to 1020 cells km-3. Bacterial biomass becomes more concentrated closer to land. Our multi-year Antarctic studies demonstrated an average total bacterial biomass of 504 tons in Admirality Bay (24 km3) or 21 tons per 1 km3, versus 6.4 tons per 1 km3 in the open ocean. Strikingly, bacterial biomass reached 330 tons per 1 km3 of seawater at the sea-ice edge, as sampled in Goulden Cove in Admiralty Bay. Bacterial biomass in Admirality Bay, which we believe can be enriched by halotolerant and thermotolerant fresh water bacteria from glacial streams, is equal to or even exceeds that of the standing stock of krill (100-630 tons per bay) or other major living components, including phytoplankton (657 tons), flagellates (591 tons), and ciliates (412 tons). However, the bacterial biomass is exceeded by several orders of magnitude by non-living organic matter, which constitutes the basic bacterial carbon source. Factors regulating high bacterial abundance in the vicinity of land are discussed.
During the Polish Antarctic Geodynamic Expeditions, 1979-91, a wide geophysical and geological programme was performed in the transition zone between the Drake and South Shetland microplates and the Antarctic Plate, in West Antarctica. In the Bransfield Strait area, and along passive continental margin of the Antarctic Peninsula, 20 deep seismic sounding profiles were made. The interpretation yielded two - dimensional models of the crust and lithosphere down to 80 km depth. In the coastal area between the Palmer Archipelago and the Adelaide Island, the Earth's crust has a typical continental structure. Its thickness varies from 36 to 42 km in the coastal area, decreasing to about 25-28 km toward Pacific Ocean. In the surrounding of Bransfield Strait, the Moho boundary depth ranges from 10 km beneath the South Shetland Trench to 40 km beneath Antarctic Peninsula. The crustal structure beneath the Bransfield Strait trough is highly anomalous. Presence of a high-velocity body, with longitudinal seismic wave velocities Vp > 7,0 km/s, was detected there in the 6-32 km depth range. This inhomogeneity was interpreted as an intrusion, coinciding with the Deception-Bridgeman volcanic line. In the transition zone from the Drake Passage to the South Shetland Islands, a seismic boundary in the lower lithosphere occurs at a depth ranging from 35 to 80 km. The dip of both the Moho and this boundary is approximately 25° towards the southeast, indicating the direction of subduction of the Drake Plate lithosphere under the Antarctic Plate. Basing on the results of four Polish Geodynamic Expeditions, the map of crustal thickness in West Antarctica is presented.