Representative (MNAP): Pavel Kapler
About the national Antarctic programme of the Czech
The national Antarctic programme of the Czech Republic is the newest member
of COMNAP: represented by the Masaryk
University the programme was admitted in 2013 at COMNAP AGM XXV in Seoul. The Masaryk
University is a lead institution of the Czech Polar Research Centre, which
connects Czech research institutions active in polar research. The Masaryk
University owns and operates the Johann Gregor Mendel Czech Antarctic Station
on James Ross Island, off the eastern side of the Antarctic Peninsula. The
University therefore has the roles of promoting and co-ordinating Czech polar
research activities, managing the Antarctic station’s development, and organising
and leading research expeditions to the Antarctic.
In addition to having a commitment to research in Antarctica, the Czech
Republic is dedicated to protecting the Antarctic environment, and it has been
a signatory to the Antarctic Treaty since 1962. An important contribution
to international agreement with the Czech Antarctic activities was represented by
the Czech Antarctic Law, ratified in 2003. Subsequently, the Czech Republic
became a member of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP) of the
Antarctic Treaty; and, ten years later at the 36th Antarctic Treaty
Consultative Meeting (2013) in Brussels, it gained Consultative Party Status.
The Johann Gregor Mendel Czech Antarctic Station, with a 20-person
capacity, was built during two summer seasons: 2004–05 and 2005–06. The base bears
the name of J. G. Mendel (1822–1884), a founder of modern genetics and a pioneering
meteorologist. Since the station’s establishment a number of successful
scientific expeditions have been based there. The station relies on other
countries for logistic support (up to now the Chilean Navy and the Argentinean Air
Force have been the usual providers).
The Johann Gregor Mendel Czech Antarctic Station and the Antarctic Peninsula in the background. Photo: K. Laska, Masaryk University.
Structure of the Czech National Antarctic Program
The Masaryk University, based in Brno, is a public university under the supervision
of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. As the owner and operator of
the Johann Gregor Mendel Czech Antarctic Station it is the receiver of the
mandate to be Lead Agency of Czech Antarctic research activities (which includes
COMNAP membership), as well as CZK 10 million per year of support from the
Ministry. This sum is for operation and logistic costs only, as science funding
is provided separately for universities and other research institutions.
For research planning and co-ordinating, the Masaryk University co-operates
with the Czech Polar Research Centre. The Czech Polar Research Centre is also
associated with the Czech Geological Survey, the University of South
Bohemia in České Budějovice, and several institutes and research centres of the
Academy of Science of the Czech Republic.
The Czech Antarctic
The Johann Gregor Mendel Czech Antarctic Station is primarily used as a
fully equipped seasonal station with two laboratories, but it also gives
support to summer field camps. Since 2007 Czech researchers have stayed and
worked here along with researchers from Argentina, Slovakia, the United Kingdom
The investigation programme carried out at the station is intended to be
long-term and multidisciplinary. The multidisciplinary character of the
programme is determined by its focus on a complex study of one of the largest
deglaciated areas in Antarctica. Both the abiotic and biotic components of the
area are studied, as well as the relationships between those components.
Studies on the area include the functioning of the whole system and predictions
of its further development. The scientific programme includes fields of Earth
Sciences (geology, geomorphology, palaeontology, glaciology, geochemistry, analytical
chemistry, climatology and hydrology, in particular), and a number of
biological disciplines, such as parasitology, botany, ecology, eco-physiology,
physiology, microbiology, ornithology and soil biology. Czech glaciology team with weather station. Photo: R. Vodrazka, Czech Geologocial Survey.
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