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Arctic Yearbook 2012
From Scientific Contributor to Player in Arctic Diplomacy?
Today, the Stanislaw Siedlecki Polish Research Station (PRS)
in Hornsund, operated by the
Institute of Geophysics, PAS, is considered the most important Polish asset in the Arctic. The
combination of the Station's location within the South Spitsbergen National Park and long-lasting
permanent year-round activity provides unique conditions for continued and long-term observations
and studies on biodiversity and climate change.
These features have been recognized by scientists
from multiple countries and by different institutions such as the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which have chosen
Hornsund as their permanent measuring facilities for aerosols levels and ozone layer.
The PRS is one of two permanently manned stations of the European Union member states, along
with the
joint French-German Arctic Research Base AWIPEV
in Ny-Ålesund
, and the only non-
Arctic state station outside the international scientific research and monitoring base operated by the
Norwegian government-driven company ‘Kings Bay’. Accordingly, it is fair to conclude that Poland
holds a unique scientific position among the non-Arctic actors on Svalbard. This is further reflected
in the Svalbard Science Forum, where the PRS is represented separately as the only non-Arctic state
facility. The other example of this distinct position is the special Agreement between the Governor
of Svalbard and the Committee on Polar Research of the PAS concerning the use of six huts owned
by the Norwegian Government.
The contribution of Polish research institutes, headed up by the PAS, and Polish scientists in foreign
research centers, although already substantial, is increasing and expanding to other fields, such as the
social sciences. Many international projects involving multinational research teams are ongoing in the
Polish Polar Station in Hornsund. These activities were boosted during the IPY 2007-2008, which
Polish scientists actively engaged in.
Furthermore, Poland actively engages in the Sustaining Arctic
Observation Network (SAON) what is reflected by a relatively wide Polish representation in the
SAON Board.
A clear sign of the Polish position and esteem Poland has earned in polar research is
the opportunity to host the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) in Cracow, in April 2013.
Based on these scientific activities, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken preliminary steps
to build a more coherent national approach to the rapidly changing situation in the Arctic within
relevant institutions. To this end, the MFA established a special Polar Task Force involving both
government officials and scientists actually working in the polar regions to confer on the key issues
related to the polar dimension in Polish foreign policy and articulation of central priority points. This