Programme for the Polar Night Week 2020

There will be a silent room as working space available during the entire week. All sessions in the programme are open for all particpants.

Some of the session will be streamed through zoom. See specific session for zoom link, if applicable.

Location: Svalbard Science Centre, Longyearbyen (Note: location for the first day: Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen)

Monday, 13 January

Location: Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen

14:00 - 16:00 Arrival and registration

The reception desk will be at the Radisson Blu Hotel. There will be coffee and the SIOS-KC team to welcome you.

16:00 - 18:00 Welcome and SESS report 2019 release
  • Welcome addresses
    • Heikki Lihavainen, SIOS director
    • Kim Holmén, Chair of the SIOS Board of Directors
    • Tomasz Jałukowicz, Head of Unit, Unit for Funding International Scientific Cooperation, Department of Science, Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Poland
  • Update on SIOS activities in 2019 (SIOS-Knowledge Centre)
  • Release of  the SESS report 2019 (Authors present their chapters)

This event will be streamed on Zoom! Click here to join.


18:00 Icebreaker at Svalbard Forskningsparken, Canteen

Tuesday, 14 January

Location: Svalbard Science Centre

09:00 - 09:30 Keynote talk by Prof. Dr. Martin Heimann, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Martin Heimann1,2 (, +49 151 120 35946), Mathias Goeckede1, Nikita Zimov3, Sergey Zimov3,4

1 Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, PF 100164, D-07701 Jena, Germany.

2 Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research (INAR) / Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland.

3 North-East Scientific Station, Pacific Institute for Geography, Far-East Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences, Cherskii, Russian Federation.

4 Far Eastern Federal University, 8 Sukhanova St., Vladivostok 690090, Russian Federation.

 The vulnerability of the large carbon reservoir locked up in Arctic permafrost soils under global warming is largely unknown. Soil properties, in particular soil wetness as well as snow cover critically control the thermal regime of the active layer of permafrost soils, and through this also the processes which govern exchanges of carbon dioxide (CO2) and emissions of methane (CH4). Here we present results from a long-term drainage experiment conducted on permafrost soils in north-eastern Siberia. Lowering of the water table through drainage changes the surface ecosystem composition and increases the summer time insulation of the underlying permafrost, hence tends to keep it cooler than in the prevailing water logged surrounding. An increase of soil degradation and fragmentation by thermokarst processes, as expected in a warming climate, may therefore lead to more dryer soil patches with reduced greenhouse gas emissions and may thus constitute a negative climate feedback process. On the other hand, higher snow depth in winter provides an important insulation which delays or even prevents the refreezing of the active surface soil layer. Higher snow depths thus lead to warmer soil temperatures and correspondingly to higher emissions of respired carbon as CO2 and CH4. Given that a future warmer Arctic most certainly implies increases in precipitation, also as snow in fall and winter, this process might represent a positive climate feedback process. Which one of these two Arctic climate feedbacks will dominate in a warming world is very much unknown. Long-term studies of in situ measurements and high-resolution remote sensing of surface structures complemented with advanced high-resolution modelling are urgently needed to robustly predict the fate of Arctic permafrost carbon within this century.

This event will be streamed on Zoom! Click here to join.

Location: Lassegrotta

09:30 - 10:30 Presentations from the working groups

The working groups will present highlights of their activities in 2019 and plans for 2020.

Location: Lassegrotta

10:30 - 11:00 Coffee break

11:00 - 12:00 SIOS data management

We will present the basics of the SIOS Data Access Point and Observation Facility Catalogue functionality, as well as information on how to contribute to our system.

We will also focus on the introduction to the SDMS Live Help Desk that will be available during PNW.

Location: Lassegrotta

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00 - 15:00 Polar Night Seminar

Science talks from participants in the SIOS Access Programme in 2020 and others. The titles of the talks and presenters are:

  • Opportunities and Challenges for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the Arctic (Richard Hann)
  • GNSS TEC and Scintillation monitoring under the cusp ( Lucilla Alfonsi)
  • Capturing Biogeochemical Processes in Proglacial Soil During the Freezing Period (James A. Bradley)
  • Benefits of an Interdisciplinary network of snow researchers (SnowNet) for developing an Integrated science project (SIOS) (JC Gallet / Bartek Luks)


  • The role of electric phenomena in snow-air interactions in the Arctic (Ekaterina Tkachenko)
  • Local and regional variability in snow concentrations of chosen POPs in Svalbard: lessons learned on field sampling protocols (Krystyna Koziol)
  • Extension of seismic monitoring network in Hornsund (Wojciech Gajek)
  • Radar Monitoring of Calving at Hansbreen (William Harcourt)
  • Glaciological and microbiological observations of the Lomonosovfonna firn aquifer ( Veijo Pohjola )
  • State of Revvatnet hydrodynamics in the year 2020 ( Tomasz Wawrzyniak)
  • De-icing of Arctic Coasts: Critical or new opportunities for marine biodiversity and Ecosystem Services? (Janne Søreide)
  • Svalbard Science Forum: Connecting Arctic Research (Karoline Bælum)



This event will be streamed on Zoom! Click here to join.

Location: Lassegrotta


15:00 - 15:30 Coffee break

15:30 - 16:00 SESS report 2019 - Feedback from authors

Authors contributing to the SESS report 2019 can give feedback about their experience with the process of developing the SESS report

Location: Lassegrotta

16:00-18:30 SIOS-InfraNor meeting

The annual meeting for the project SIOS-InfraNor - open for all PNW participants.

Preliminary agenda:

  • Project status report
  • Summary of side meeting at Svalbard Science Conference 2019
  • New funding application to RCN
  • New technologies
  • Status of data delivery and observation facility catalogue
  • Project progress reporting for 2019


Location: Lassegrotta


20:00 Movie night (Films will be announced during PNW)

Location: Lassegrotta

Wednesday, 15 January

Location: Svalbard Science Centre

09:00 - 09:30 Keynote talk by Mats A. Granskog, Norwegian Polar Institute

New insights into the sea-ice system north of Svalbard - lessons from the N-ICE2015 drift experiment

Regionality in sea ice and snow conditions in the Arctic Ocean are often neglected. Recent work from the Norwegian young sea ICE (N-ICE2015) expedition in the area north of Svalbard, showcases how sea ice in this region is frequently affected by passing winter storms that affect the sea-ice system in a number of ways that are unique to this region. The oceanic conditions, especially with relatively shallow warm Atlantic water, also affects the sea-ice system and sets the region apart from other regions of the Arctic.

Despite the waters around Svalbard being fairly well studied, there are surprisingly little information from winter. Here we make a synthesis of the first comprehensive dataset of winter observations from the N-ICE2015 expedition that took place in a thin first and second year sea-ice regime in the ‘stormy’ Atlantic Sector. The multidisciplinary dataset includes atmosphere, snow, sea-ice, ocean, and ecosystem observations from a drifting ice station from winter to spring (Jan-Jun). We use these observations to illustrate the mechanisms through which winter storms affect the coupled Arctic sea-ice system.

These short-lived and episodic synoptic-scale events transport pulses of heat and moisture into the Arctic, which temporarily reduces radiative cooling and henceforth ice growth. Cumulative snowfall from each sequential storm acts to deepen the snow pack, being thicker than in other regions of the Arctic, which insulates the sea-ice and inhibits ice growth for the remaining winter season. In addition, strong winds fracture the ice cover, enhance ice drift and thus also increase ocean heat fluxes which also can reduce thermodynamic ice growth.
The heavy snow load induces flooding of the ice, and snow-ice formation, which likely is much more widespread in this part of the Arctic than elsewhere, due to combination of heavy snow fall and thinning of the sea ice cover. Flooding also induced phytoplankton growth at the bottom of the snow pack, which is a widespread phenomenon in the Antarctic, but might become more prevalent in the Arctic with thinning ice, especially in the Atlantic sector. In spring, the broken up ice pack and prevalence of leads in the region allowed enough light to penetrate to the ocean, to sustain an early under-ice phytoplankton bloom, despite average snow depths of the order of 0.3-0.5 m. Thus the legacy of Arctic winter storms for sea-ice and the ice-associated ecosystem in the Atlantic Sector lasts far beyond their short lifespan.

This event will be streamed on Zoom! Click here to join.

Location: Møysalen

09:30 - 10:15 Practical tools for increased coordination of logistics

How can we better organise and coordinate logistics and field work between SIOS members? We will present concepts for tools to serve this purpose and ask for input from the SIOS community. 

Location: Møysalen

10:15 - 10:45 Coffee break

10:45 - 12:00 Core data seminar

We will present the draft of the optimisation report and information about the SIOS core data: definitions, data set, cooperation plan with partners, online system. 

Location: Møysalen

12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

13:00 - 14:00 Poster session with coffee

Confirmed posters:

  • Effects of big herbivores on the functioning of decomposers and primary producers in High Arctic tundra (GrazeAct) (Olga Gavrichkova)
  • An Integrated Network to measure Seasonal Processes in Arctic habitats via novel Experiments (Catherine Larose)
  • Near real-time observations of snow water equivalent for SIOS on Svalbard (Julia Boike)
  • NY-alesund TurbulencE Fiber-Optic eXperiment (Christoph Thomas)
  • Microbial carbon turnover and greenhouse gas formation from permafrost soils revealed by 14CO2 analysis (Jan Olaf Melchert)
  • Environmental Bloom Controls of Blooms and Adaptive Mechanisms in Svalbard (Clara Jule Marie Hoppe)
  • Development of a Lunar Photometer to Measure Aerosol Optical Depth during the Polar Night (Robert Stone)
  • Constraining aerosol properties with Camera Lidar and Star-Photometer (John Barnes)
  • Spatial differences in the chemical composition of surface waters in the Hornsund fjord area (Krystyna Koziol)
  • Svalbard Rock Vault: Let us safeguard Svalbard’s geoscientific heritage! (Kim Senger)
  • A new GIS system for Ny-Ålesund (Christina Pedersen)
  • Marine robotics for sampling air-sea-ice interface in the Arctic region (Massimo Caccia)
  • Initial science flights with the Lufttransport Dornier Instrumented Aircraft (Rune Storvold)
  • Climate-ecological observatory for Arctic tundra (COAT) (Åshild Ø. Pedersen)
  • Deep variability at the SW Spitsbergen continental slope (Vedrana Kovacevic)
  • The new Institute of Polar Science of the National Council of Research of Italy (Angelo Viola, Mauro Mazzola)
  • Information poster from European Polar Board


Location: Canteen


14:00 - 15:00 Keynote talks by moderators of the mini-workshops

Location: Møysalen

15:00 - 17:00 Parallel sessions: Mini-workshops

Workshop 1: Write so your research can make a difference - Mini-workshop on science communication

Moderator: Janet Holmén, editor for popular science summaries, SESS report)

We will have a science communicator teaching us how to improve our communication skills towards the public and important stakeholders. This mini-workshop will combine theoretical lectures and practical activities.

Location: Comp Lab 1

Workshop 2: Promoting Svalbard as a potential cal/val site for satellite missions

Moderators: Anja Strømme, ESA and Bo Andersen, SIOS-KC

This mini-workshop will facilitate interaction between participants and highlight how their research activities can help promote Svalbard as a potential site for calibration and validation for satelitte missions. Final agenda available here.

Location: Festningen

Workshop 3: SIOS and Earth System Models

Moderator: Ada Gjermundsen, Met Norway and Prof. Dr. Martin Heimann, Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry

If we had exact data for everything everywhere we would not need models. If we had perfect models we would not need data. Neither of the two will happen anytime soon. An important issue for SIOS is to consciously meld model development and sampling / monitoring strategies such that we acquire the most rapid and cost effective development of both to maximize the amount of understanding from the available information. Inevitably, data will be limited in time and space and the gaps between can only be “filled” through models. (C. Ellis-Evans and K. Holmén, A strategy for prioritization within SIOS, 2011)
The modellers are underrepresented in developing SIOS. The obejective of this mini-workshop is to discuss how to improve the interation with modellers.
The discussion will focus on:
·        how to improve communication between modellers and field scientists?
·        how to make your data more attractive for modellers?
·        how can results of models be useful for your field work design?
·        can models be used to optimise your data collection?

Location: Møysalen

19:00 SIOS Dinner at Huset

Thursday, 16 January

Location: Svalbard Science Centre

09:00 - 12:00 Working group meetings (SOAG, SDMS WG)

All are welcome to the working group meetings!

SOAG = Science Optimisation Advisory Group

Location: Møysalen

SDMS WG = SIOS Data Management System Working Group

Location: Festningen

12:00 - 13:00 Lunch

13:00 - 16:00 Working group meetings (RSWG, RICC, IAG)

All are welcome to the working group meetings!

RSWG = Remote Sensing Working Group

Location: Møysalen

RICC = Research Infrastructure Coordination Comittee

Location: Festningen

IAG = Information Advisory Group

Location: A116 (SIOS corridor)

16:00 - 18:00 Cross working group meeting: Mingling with soft drinks, beer and pizza

Discussions of better working across the goups and streamlining the terms of reference for the working groups.

The results of the SIOS working group satisfaction survey will also be discussed. To participate in the survey, go to and enter event code SIOS_WG.

Note: only working group members should participate in the survey.

Location: Canteen


17:30 - 18:30 Public event: Ask an expert!

SIOS invites the local community to the event "Ask an expert", where experts will answer questions about the Earth system. Questions were collected in beginning of December, but there will be the possibility to ask questions also directly during the event.

More details on Facebook.

Location: Barentz Gastropub, Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen


Friday, 17 January

Location: Svalbard Science Centre, Møysalen

09:30 - 10:00 Keynote talk by Agnar H. Sivertsen, NORCE

A new airborne remote sensing platform at Svalbard

The LN-LYR, one to the two Dornier passenger aircrafts operated by Luftransport at Svalbard, has recently been upgraded with a sensor pod. The pod contains a high resolution hyperspectral imager (VNIR-1800, Norsk elektro optikk), a medium format aerial camera (IXU-150, Phase One), an AIS receiver (Kongsberg Seatex), a high bandwidth data link (Radionor CRE2-179 UAV) and a GNSS-inertial navigation system (Applanix posav 410) for direct georeferencing of the recorded data. The data recording and tasking system is developed by NORCE and designed for being operated autonomously during normal flights. It is, to our knowledge, the only passenger aircraft with this capability. The aircraft upgrade is part of a four-year project, partly funded by the Troms county, where the focus is on developing new technology and solutions for airborne surveys and rapid processing and sharing of data from airborne platforms. In addition, new methods and technology for collaboration and real time interaction with data from multiple platforms and sources, such a UAVs, ships and buoys, are being developed in the project.
The payload is partly funded by the Svalbard Integrated arctic earth Observing System Infranor project and can contribute to time series of high resolution hyperspectral transects as the aircraft flies weekly to Ny-Ålesund and about 20 transects a year across from Longyearbyen to the Villum Research Station (Station Nord) on Greenland to provide logistical support. Sea ice concentration, spectral albedo, chlorophyll-a, algae concentrations and ocean waves are some parameters which can be retrieved from the optical data. These data will also provide valuable validation for satellite data retrievals. The high bandwidth datalink will be used for uploading high bandwidth data from drift and sail buoys, and for real time collaboration and coordination of data retrievals by ships and other vessels operating north of Svalbard.
The pod is designed for future upgrades and there are currently room for a synthetic aperture radar, a short wave infrared hyperspectral imager and a thermal camera. Other instrumentation, such as a laser scanner and a EO/IR gimbal, can be fitted on the aircraft itself. The newly upgraded Dornier is an ideal and cost effective multitool for remote sensing missions on and around Svalbard. We believe it will bring new opportunities and interesting discoveries for the Svalbard science community for years to come.

This event will be streamed on Zoom! Click here to join.


10:00-10:15 NySMAC update by Maarten Loonen

10:15 - 11:30 Concluding plenary

11:30 Lunch (Take away)

Afternoon: Departure of participants