Studies were performed in the summer of 1989 in the vicinity of the Polish Polar Station at Hornsund, Svalbard, in an attempt to characterize the functioning of selected tundra soils in terms of bioenergetics. The intensity of bioenergetical processes in the soil was evaluated by the rates of O2 consumption and CO2 production, measured in the laboratory under controlled hydrothermic conditions. Soils metabolic processes are markedly correlated with soil water content and dependent upon soil structure, water capacity and character of plant cover. The strongest correlation was observed in the more aerated soils with small water capacity and without vegetation. The respiratory quotient (RQ) decreased with the growth of soil moisture content. Soil metabolic activity began directly after the summer melting of the ground, when the soil temperature reached 0°C, and ceased in autumn, when temperatures fell below 0°C again.
Oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production in some Arctic soils were measured in different thermic and humidity conditions. Testing temperatures was following: 4, 8 and 12°C. The rate of metabolic processes was temperature and humidity dependent. In the temperature of 4°C the metabolic processes intensity was negatively correlated with humidity, however in higher temperatures the higher was the humidity the higher was also the intensity of metabolic processes. The interaction of humidity and temperature is probably to great extent responsible for low rate of decomposition processes of organic matter in polar conditions.
Physical and chemical properties (granulometric composition, pH, carbonates, organic carbon, nitrogen etc.) as well as bioenergetic activity of Spitsbergen tundra soils were studied at three chosen stations situated near Polish polar station "Hornsund". It was found that biological activity of Arctic tundra soils depended mainly on its physical properties, whereas the chemical composition of organic matter did not effect directly the bioenergetics of these soils. This bioenergetic activity depends mainly on the richness of micro- and mesofauna communities inhabiting the soil.