COMNAP Representative (MNAP): Pavel Kapler
(DMNAP): Daniel Nyvlt
About the national Antarctic programme of the Czech Republic
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.
The Organisational 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 Science Program
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 and Russia.
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, plant stress
physiology, microbiology, ornithology and soil biology. Czech glaciology team with weather station. Photo: R. Vodrazka, Czech Geologocial Survey.
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