Interdisciplinary Polar Studies (IPS-2023) Modular Meeting: Arctic Amplification-Glaciers- Environment consists of a two days scientific conference at UNIS in Longyearbyen and field workshops within Isfjorden and Hornsund Fjord areas.
The event gathered over 60 polar scientists from Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Great Britain, Spain, India, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and the USA. It was one of the meetings to spark creative thinking on interdisciplinary studies and a grasp of the warming Arctic.
The IPS-2023 conference was organized by the Centre for Polar Studies, University of Silesia in Katowice, in cooperation with the Institute of Geophysics and Institute of Oceanology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Svalbard Integrated Arctic Earth Observing System (SIOS), The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), Polish Polar Consortium and Committee on Polar Research, Polish Academy of Sciences.
The primary motivation and goal of the IPS-2023 were (1) to strengthen a holistic approach to studies and a better understanding of environmental changes due to the accelerated warming of the Arctic and (2) to prepare the new generation of scientists for creative involvement in the 5th International Polar Year 2032/2033 by active participation in the IASC ICARP IV (2025) process and the ongoing Ocean Decade (2021-2030) programme.
The scientific sessions provided novel advantageous insights into the dynamically changing Arctic.
 session "Amplification of Arctic warming" revealed the interconnected nature of the Arctic system. The discussions underscored the cascading effects of temperature anomalies, ocean heat content variations, and sea ice dynamics on the Arctic environment. Key insights included the potential impacts of changing Arctic Ocean loops, the role of meltwater in carbon dioxide uptake, and the diverse ecological consequences of climate change, from noise pollution affecting marine mammals to the thriving invasive alga Vaucheria aff. compacta. The presented findings emphasized the urgency of further research to understand and address the multifaceted challenges arising from climate change in the Arctic.
 session "Shrinking glaciers and thawing permafrost" provided insights into the profound impacts of global warming on Svalbard's environmental dynamics. The session highlighted the intricate relationships between glacier melt, atmosphere circulation, and marine ecosystems, emphasizing the urgent need for understanding and addressing climate-induced changes. The discussions underscored the challenges in modeling glacier behavior, the importance of recognizing biogeochemical processes, and the advanced environmental transformations in the High Arctic, calling for continued research to enhance our cognition of Earth's systems in the face of ongoing climate change.
 session "Looking into the future – The IPY 2032-2033 challenge" highlighted the vulnerability of marine-terminating glaciers to climate change, emphasizing the need for international collaboration to advance our understanding of these critical components for increasing sea level rise. The session also addressed environmental concerns, such as heavy metal contamination from melting glaciers, emphasizing the importance of monitoring programs in Svalbard to comprehend the interplay between atmospheric impurities and climate-induced changes. Furthermore, the discussions underscored the significance of understanding the polar environment for space science and the urgency of implementing long-term adaptation plans to mitigate risks posed to Arctic communities by ongoing climate warming.
The panel discussions "Ignite session of discussions on the ICARP IV priority themes" allowed us to draw the following key takeaways:
- The collaborative prioritization of Arctic research themes with engagement across disciplines and the inclusion of traditional knowledge;
- The need for interdisciplinary collaboration, secure satellite observation networks, and community involvement to address knowledge gaps and navigate political challenges;
- The increasing interdisciplinarity in Arctic research with a focus on feedback mechanisms within the Arctic system, open data principles, and the emerging concept of "digital twins."
The audience posed queries ranging from the challenges faced by young researchers to the justification of the environmental footprint of polar research. Scientists acknowledged these challenges, emphasized the importance of international collaboration, and outlined initiatives to minimize environmental impact. The role of young researchers in addressing environmental issues and the significance of citizen science in polar research were underscored.
The field workshops during IPS-2023 explored Svalbard's diverse environments, offering participants firsthand experiences at key scientific sites. Visits to the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund and Isfjorden, the Hansbreen glacier, and the Petuniabukta Polar Station facilitated insights into glaciological changes, oceanological monitoring, and cultural heritage. The alternative workshops in Billefjorden and Adventdalen enriched the understanding of central Spitsbergen's landscapes and glaciers, highlighting the importance of on-site experiences in enhancing scientific knowledge and fostering interdisciplinary discussions.
Climate change, particularly in the Arctic, is driving significant environmental changes. These changes impact various aspects of the region, including glaciers, marine ecosystems, atmospheric impurities, hydrology and biodiversity. The conference findings emphasise the complexity of these interactions and highlight the importance of interdisciplinary research, international collaboration, and long-term adaptation planning to address the challenges posed by ongoing climate warming in the Arctic.
IPS-2023 showed the enthusiasm of young researchers in adopting a multifaceted and holistic approach to studying the rapidly changing Arctic environment and their eagerness to engage in the ICARP IV process and contribute to shaping the 5th IPY program!
The full IPS-2023 programme is available at:
The book of abstracts is available at:
Video-relation of the IPS-2023:
Photo gallery of the IPS-2023:
Date and Location
30 August – 4 September 2023 I Longyearbyen, Svalbard
IASC Working Groups funding the project:
- Jacek A. Jania (University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland)
- Mariusz Grabiec (University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland)
Year funded by IASC
Top left: IPS-2023 participants on the Hansbreen, near the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund. Drone photo by Natalia Łatacz
Bottom Right: IPS-2023 participants on the slope of Nordenskiöldtoppen Mountain. Photo: Paulina Pakszys