The aim of this study was to provide an estimation of climate variability in the Hornsund area in Southern Spitsbergen in the period 1976-2100. The climatic variables were obtained from the Polar-CORDEX initiative in the form of time series of daily air temperature and precipitation derived from four global circulation models (GCMs) following representative concentration pathways (RCP) RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 emission scenarios. In the first stage of the analysis, simulations for the reference period from 1979 to 2005 were compared with observations at the Polish Polar Station Hornsund from the same period of time. In the second step, climatic projections were derived and monthly and annual means/sums were analysed as climatic indices. Following the standard methods of trend analysis, the changes of these indices over three time periods - the reference period 1976-2005, the near-future period 2021-2050, and far-future period 2071-2100 - were examined. The projections of air temperature were consistent. All analysed climate models simulated an increase of air temperature with time. Analyses of changes at a monthly scale indicated that the largest increases were estimated for winter months (more than 11°C for the far future using the RCP 8.5 scenario). The analyses of monthly and annual sums of precipitation also indicated increasing tendencies for changes with time, with the differences between mean monthly sums of precipitation for the near future and the reference period similar for each months. In the case of changes between far future and reference periods, the highest increases were projected for the winter months.
Climate change has been affecting plants over the last century and caused changes in life history features such as the flowering time. Herbarium specimens provide a snapshot of the past environmental conditions during their collection. The collection date in a herbarium specimen is a good proxy to determine the flowering period (phenology). In this study, phenological data from subarctic plant specimens collected over 100 years were gathered by using one of the largest herbarium databases in the World. The collection dates of 7146 herbarium specimens were analyzed and significant shifts in the phenology of subarctic plants were detected. In this study, most of the analyzed 142 species in a subarctic biogeographic region tended to flower earlier in the 1950–2018 period compared to the 1900–1949 as a possible result of the climate change. Flowering time shifted from 8 to 26 days in some species. Changes in flowering time may alter species interactions, community composition, and species distribution in a region. Therefore, results of this study may shed light on the possible shifts in phenology and plant responses under the climate change.
A 2.5−metre−long marine core from Isvika bay in Nordaustlandet (80 ° N, 18 ° E) was AMS 14 C dated and analysed for its sedimentological and magnetic parameters. The studied record was found to cover the entire Holocene and indicates major turnovers in the palaeohydrography and sedimentary depositional history. The area was deglaciated at around 11,300 BP. The early Holocene has indications of rapid melting of glaciers and frequent deposition of ice−rafted debris (IRD). The climatic optimum terminated with a probable glacier re−advance event occurring ca. 5800 cal BP. This event caused the deposition of a diamicton unit in Isvika bay, followed by a shift towards a colder and a more stratified hydrographic set − ting. The reduction in IRD indicates gradual cooling, which led to the stratification of the bay and eventually to more persistent fast sea−ice conditions by 2500 cal BP. For the last 500 years, Isvika has again been seasonally open.
Thirty-two species of echinoderms from epibenthic sledges, dredges, scuba diving, and other samples (in total: 467 samples and c. 20 000 specimens) from fjords and coastal waters off Spitsbergen were analysed between 1996 and 2014. The most numerous group of echinoderms in the coastal waters off Spitsbergen is brittle stars (78% of the total individuals). The echinoderms do not form any clear assemblages according to depth or distance from glacial sedimentation and substrate. Some species prefer hard bottom (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) or water free from glacial suspensions (Ophiopholis aculeata). In contrast to the species listed above, we also found opportunistic species such as the starfish Urasterias lincki and the brittle star Ophiocten sericeum. These two species are distributed quite uniformly, regardless of the environmental factors. The majority of the species prefer a soft bottom below 200 m.
How environmental conditions influence current distributions of organisms at the local scale in sensitive High Arctic freshwaters is essential to understand in order to better comprehend the cascading consequences of the ongoing climate change. This knowledge is also important background data for paleolimnological assessments of long-Term limnoecological changes and in describing the range of environmental variability. We sampled five limnologically different freshwater sites from the Fuglebergsletta marine terrace in Hornsund, southern Svalbard, for aquatic invertebrates. Invertebrate communities were tested against non-climatic environmental drivers as limnological and catchment variables. A clear separation in the communities between the sites was observed. The largest and deepest lake was characterized by a diverse Chironomidae community but Cladocera were absent. In a pond with marine influence, crustaceans, such as Ostracoda, Amphipoda, and calanoid Copepoda were the most abundant invertebrates. Two nutrient-rich ponds were dominated by a chironomid, Orthocladius consobrinus, whereas themost eutrophic pond was dominated by the cladoceran Daphnia pulex, suggesting decreasing diversity along with the trophic status. Overall, nutrient related variables appeared to have an important influence on the invertebrate community composition and diversity, the trophic state of the sites being linked with their exposure to geese guano. Other segregating variables included water color, presence/absence of fish, abundance of aquatic vegetation and lake depth. These results suggest that since most of these variables are climate-driven at a larger scale, the impacts of the ongoing climate change will have cumulative effects on aquatic ecosystems.
Dynamic climate changes have become noticeable in recent decades, especially in the vulnerable region of the West Antarctic. The relatively simple food web of this area relies on krill – Euphausia superba . Presumably, as a result of climatic fluctuations, a de− crease in the number of this crustacean has been recorded, followed by an increase in the population of the gelatinous zooplankter Salpa thompsoni . In the research presented herein, population and morphometric analyses of Salpa thompsoni have been conducted. Specimens for this research were collected from the Drake Passage, using a Bongo net in the summer season of 2010. It has been found that the horizontal distribution of this gelatinous zooplankter was significantly irregular (Kruskal−Wallis test, p < 0.001). In the northern part of the investigated area, both blastozooids and oozooids were recorded, which confirms the dynamic development of this species. The central part of the Drake Passage was characterized by the dominance of blastozooids, with embryos found at different stages of the development. Only in the region of the South Shetland Islands, the salpid population was characterized by reduced or even stopped reproduction. The immense reproductive efficiency observed in the Salpa thompsoni population was mostly induced by the favourable thermal conditions. These observations may suggest that the ongoing climat changes in the West Antarctic will promote the population expansion of this species.
Significant retreat of glaciers terminating in Hornsund Fjord (Southern Spits− bergen, Svalbard) has been observed during the 20th century and in the first decade of the 21st century. The objective of this paper is to present, as complete as possible, a record of front positions changes of 14 tidewater glaciers during this period and to distinguish the main factors influencing their fluctuations. Results are based on a GIS analysis of archival maps, field measurements, and aerial and satellite images. Accuracy was based on an assessment of seasonal fluctuations of a glacier’s ice cliff position with respect to its mini− mum length in winter (November–December) and its maximum advance position in June or July. Morphometric features and the environmental setting of each glacier are also presented. The total area of the glacier cover in Hornsund Fjord in the period of 1899–2010 diminished approximately 172 km 2 , with an average areal retreat rate of 1.6 km 2 a −1 .The recession rate increased from ~1 km 2 a −1 in first decades of the 20th century up to ~3 km 2 a −1 in years 2001–2010. The latest period was more thoroughly studied using optical satellite images acquired almost every year. The importance of glacier morphology and hypsometry, as well as fjord bathymetry and topography is analyzed. Large glacier systems with low slopes terminating in deeper waters are retreating faster than small steep glaciers terminating in shallower water. A relation between mean annual air temperature and aerial retreat rate of tidewater glaciers was found for long time scales. A sudden temperature in − crease, known as the early 20th century warming in Svalbard, and an increase in temperatures during recent decades are well reflected in deglaciation rate. Influence of sea water temperatures on calving and retreat of glaciers was considered and is significant in short−time intervals of the last decade. Surge events are non−climatic factors which com − plicate the record. They are reflected in front advance or fast retreat due to a massive calving depending on the relation between ice thickness and water depth. Despite the influence of many factors, the response of tidewater glaciers to climate change is evident. The average linear retreat rate of all the tidewater glaciers in Hornsund amounted to ~70 ma −1 in 2001–2010 and was higher than the average retreat of other Svalbard tidewater glaciers (~45 ma −1 ). Thus, glaciers of this basin can be considered as more sensitive to climate than glaciers of other regions of the archipelago.