Textural properties and microstructures are commonly used properties in the analysis of Pleistocene and older glacial deposits. However, contemporary glacial deposits are seldom studied, particularly in the context of post-depositional changes. This paper presents the results of a micromorphological study of recently deposited tills in the marginal zones of Hansbreen and Torellbreen, glaciers in southwestern Spitsbergen. The main objectives of this study were to compare modern tills deposited in subglacial and supraglacial conditions, as well as tills that were freshly released from ice with those laid down several decades ago. The investigated tills are primarily composed of large clasts of metamorphic rocks and represent coarse-grained, matrix-supported diamictons. The tills reveal several characteristic features for ductile (e.g. turbate structures) and brittle (e.g. lineations, microshears) deformations, which have been considered to be indicative of subglacial conditions. In supraglacial tills, the same structures are common as in the subglacial deposits, which points to the preservation of the primary features, though the sediment was transferred up to the glacier surface due to basal ice layer deformation and redeposited as slumps, or to formation of similar structures due to short-distance sediment re-deposition by mass flows. This study revealed that it might not be possible to distinguish subglacial and supraglacial tills on the basis of micromorphology if the latter are derived from a subglacial position. The only noted difference was the presence of iron oxide cementation zones and carbonate dissolution features in supraglacial tills. These features were found in tills that were deposited at least a few years ago and are interpreted to be induced by early post-depositional processes involving porewater/sediment interactions.
The thermal state of permafrost is a crucial indicator of environmental changes occurring in the Arctic. The monitoring of ground temperatures in Svalbard has been carried out in instrumented boreholes, although only few are deeper than 10 m and none are located in southern part of Spitsbergen. Only one of them, Janssonhaugen, located in central part of the island, provides the ground temperature data down to 100 m. Recent studies have proved that significant warming of the ground surface temperatures, observed especially in the last three decades, can be detected not only just few meters below the surface, but reaches much deeper layers. The aim of this paper is evaluation of the permafrost state in the vicinity of the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund using the numerical heat transfer model CryoGrid 2. The model is calibrated with ground temperature data collected from a 2 m deep borehole established in 2013 and then validated with data from the period 1990-2014 from five depths up to 1 m, measured routinely at the Hornsund meteorological station. The study estimates modelled ground thermal profile down to 100 m in depth and presents the evolution of the ground thermal regime in the last 25 years. The simulated subsurface temperature trumpet shows that multiannual variability in that period can reach 25 m in depth. The changes of the ground thermal regime correspond to an increasing trend of air temperatures observed in Hornsund and general warming across Svalbard.
The aim of this study was to provide an estimation of climate variability in the Hornsund area in Southern Spitsbergen in the period 1976-2100. The climatic variables were obtained from the Polar-CORDEX initiative in the form of time series of daily air temperature and precipitation derived from four global circulation models (GCMs) following representative concentration pathways (RCP) RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 emission scenarios. In the first stage of the analysis, simulations for the reference period from 1979 to 2005 were compared with observations at the Polish Polar Station Hornsund from the same period of time. In the second step, climatic projections were derived and monthly and annual means/sums were analysed as climatic indices. Following the standard methods of trend analysis, the changes of these indices over three time periods - the reference period 1976-2005, the near-future period 2021-2050, and far-future period 2071-2100 - were examined. The projections of air temperature were consistent. All analysed climate models simulated an increase of air temperature with time. Analyses of changes at a monthly scale indicated that the largest increases were estimated for winter months (more than 11°C for the far future using the RCP 8.5 scenario). The analyses of monthly and annual sums of precipitation also indicated increasing tendencies for changes with time, with the differences between mean monthly sums of precipitation for the near future and the reference period similar for each months. In the case of changes between far future and reference periods, the highest increases were projected for the winter months.
The aim of the study was to compare cyanobacterial and algal assemblages occurring in ornithocoprophilous habitats formed under the influence of two seabird colonies (mixed colony of piscivorous Uria lomvia and Rissa tridactyla and planktivorous Alle alle) nesting on the southwest side of Hornsund (Spitsbergen). Various influences of the bird colonies (e.g. surface trophy, treading) lead to the formation of ornithogenic habitats with quantitatively and qualitatively diverse cyanobacterial and algal assemblages. Only 6 species common to both habitats were identified, but due to their different proportions the similarity ended there. Cyanobacterial and algal assemblages of both ornithogenic habitats also react rather differently to the intensity of the bird colonies' influence. The assemblages located directly beneath piscivorous bird nests were characterized by a larger number of species, which decreased the farther from the colony it was. Cyanobacterial and algal assemblages located directly next to planktivorous bird nests were species poor, but species richness increased at locations farther from their direct influence. The obtained results confirmed that bird colonies characterized by different diet and behavior influenced the formation of two separate, quantitatively and qualitatively different cyanobacterial and algal assemblages. Species such as Eucapsis sp., Gleocapsopsis sp., Gloeothece sp., Woronichinia sp., Hematococcus sp. were characteristic for algae and cyanobacteria assemblages in the vicinity of piscivorous bird colonies, whereas Aphanocapsa sp., Gloeothece sp., Komvophoron minutum, Pseudanabaena sp., Gloeocystis sp. 2 occurred in the vicinity of planktivorous bird colonies.
The rapidly changing Arctic provides excellent opportunities for investigating primary succession on freshly deglaciated areas. Research on the Gåsbreen foreland (S Spitsbergen) traced the succession of particular groups of organisms and species, particularly lichens and bryophytes, and determined the effect of selected abiotic factors on this succession. Fieldwork in 2008, employed a continuous linear transect of phytosociological relevés (1 m2) along the foreland. Data analysis allowed to distinguish five different succession stages and three types of colonisers. Canonical correspondence analysis and a permutation test showed that distance from the front of the glacier and fine grain material in the substrate mostly influenced the distribution and abundance of vegetation, and the steepness of the moraine hills affected the colonisation process, mainly in the older part of the marginal zone.
This study presents the results of dendrochronological and dendroclimatological research of Betula pubescens from four sites in northern Norway (Kvaløya Island, Tromsøya Island and Storelva Valley), which provided a 193-year chronology. Our results highlight the importance of the site selection in dendroclimatological studies. We demonstrated that activity of geomorphic processes connected with local topography could led to reduced strength of climatic signal embedded in tree-ring data. Negative pointer years, triggered mainly by unfavourable climatic conditions and insect outbreaks, were common for all site chronologies in 1945, 1955, 1965, 1975, 1986, 2004. However, some site-specific differences were also distinguished. Response function analysis confirmed that June, July and August temperatures were positively correlated with tree-ring widths. This climate-growth relationship was stable throughout the years 1925-2000. From summer temperature reconstruction back to AD 1820, two colder (c. 1835-1850 and 1890-1920) and two warmer (c. 1825-1835 and 1920-1940) periods were identified. The tree-ring record from the Tromsø Region, well correlated between series, sites and climate variables, is an important element of a large-scale reconstruction of pre-instrumental climate variation in the northeastern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Our dendroclimatic reconstruction corresponds well with other climate proxy data, like fluctuations of mountain glaciers in Scandinavia or sea ice extent.
Landscape changes of the Gåsbreen glacier and its vicinity since 1899 are described. Maps at 1:50 000 scale of changes of the glacier's elevation and extent for the periods 1938-1961, 1961-1990, 1990-2010, and 1938-2010 are analyzed in comparison with results of the authors' field work in the summer seasons 1983, 1984, 2000, 2005 and 2008. During all the 20th century, the progressive recession of the glacier revealed in a dramatic decrease in the thickness of its lower part, with a small reduction of its area and length. However, further shrinkage produced significant shortening and reduction in area which resulted in final decline of the Goësvatnet glacial dammed lake in 2002. Hence, the lowest (and very thick, up to 150-160 m) part of the former glacier tongue and dammed lake were transformed into a new terraced river valley south of the glacier and a typical marginal zone with glacial landforms north of the glacier. Since 1961, the equilibrium line altitude of the Gåsbreen glacier has risen from ca 350 to ca 500 m a.s.l. and now is located below the very steep rocky walls of the Mehesten mountain ridge, 1378 m a.s.l. Hence, the glacier is being fed by snow avalanches from these rocky walls and much more snow melts during the warmer summer seasons, stimulating a quicker recession of the lowest part of the glacier. This recession may be stopped only by significant climate cooling or increase in snow.
Several bacteria that are associated with macroalgae can use phycocolloids as a carbon source. Strain INACH002, isolated from decomposing Porphyra (Rhodophyta), in King George Island, Antarctica, was screened and characterized for the ability to produce agarase and alginate-lyase enzymatic activities. Our strain INACH002 was identified as a member of the genus Flavobacterium, closely related to Flavobacterium faecale, using 16S rRNA gene analysis. The INACH002 strain was characterized as psychrotrophic due to its optimal temperature (17°C) and maximum temperature (20°C) of growth. Agarase and alginate-lyase displayed enzymatic activities within a range of 10°C to 50°C, with differences in the optimal temperature to hydrolyze agar (50°C), agarose (50°C) and alginate (30°C) during the first 30 min of activity. Strain Flavobacterium INACH002 is a promising Antarctic biotechnological resource; however, further research is required to illustrate the structural and functional bases of the enzymatic performance observed during the degradation of different substrates at different temperatures.
We studied dynamic changes in anthropogenic bacterial communities at a summer−operated Czech research base (the Mendel Research Station) in the Antarctic during 2012 and 2013. We observed an increase in total numbers of detected bacteria between the beginning and the end of each stay in the Antarctic. In the first series of samples, bacteria of Bacillus sp. predominated. Surprisingly, high numbers of Gram−positive cocci and coli − forms were found (including opportunistic human pathogens), although the conditions for bacterial life were unfavourable (Antarctic winter). In the second series of samples, coliforms and Gram−positive cocci predominated. Dangerous human pathogens were also detected. Yersinia enterocolitica was identified as serotype O:9. Antibiotic susceptibility testing showed medium−to−high resistance rates to ampicillin, cefalotin, cefuroxime, amoxicillin−clavulanate and gentamicin in Enterobacteriaceae. 16S rRNA sequencing showed high rates of accordance between nucleotide sequences among the tested strains. Three conclusions were drawn: (1) Number of anthropogenic bacteria were able to survive the harsh conditions of the Antarctic winter (inside and outside the polar station). Under certain circumstances ( e.g. impaired immunity), the surviving bacteria might pose a health risk to the participants of future expeditions or to other visitors to the base. (2) The bacteria released into the outer environment might have impacts on local ecosystems. (3) New characteristics ( e.g. resistance to antibiotics) may be introduced into local bacterial communities.
Temperature and precipitation conditions in the Kaffiøyra region in the summer season (21 July-31 August) for the period from 1975-2014 are described based on data collected during 22 expeditions, in which meteorological measurements were carried out, and complete data series combining both original and reconstructed data. The latter ones were obtained using data from the Ny Ålesund meteorological station, which are strongly correlated with data from the Kaffiøyra region. Seasonal statistics presented for temperature and precipitation based on these two sets of data reveal only slight changes. Summer temperatures in the Kaffiøyra region in the studied period (1975-2014) showed statistically significant strong upward trends, while precipitation totals revealed a downward trend, but not statistically significant. In the studied area, based on 40-years of data, it was demonstrated that the near-surface lapse rates of summer air temperature are slightly lower in glaciated (0.58°C/100 m) than in non-glaciated areas (0.67°C/100 m). Anticyclonic/cyclonic circulation types significantly increase/decrease air temperature on the Waldemar Glacier, while their impact on precipitation is markedly smaller. In summer, close correlations were observed between air temperature and such glacier characteristics as the mass balance and the location of the equilibrium line, while precipitation does not have a great influence on them.
This paper provides an overview of the results of research on changes in ground temperature down to 50 cm depth, on the Kaffiøyra Plain, Spitsbergen in the summer seasons. To achieve this, measurement data were analysed from three different ecotopes (CALM Site P2A, P2B and P2C) – a beach, a moraine and tundra – collected during 22 polar expeditions between 1975 and 2014. To ensure comparability, data sets for the common period from 21 July to 31 August (referred to as the “summer season” further in the text) were analysed. The greatest influence on temperature across the investigated ground layers comes from air temperature (correlation coefficients ranging from 0.61 to 0.84). For the purpose of the analysis of the changes in ground temperature in the years 1975–2014, missing data for certain summer seasons were reconstructed on the basis of similar data from a meteorological station at Ny-Ålesund. The ground temperature at the Beach site demonstrated a statistically−significant growing trend: at depths from 1 to 10 cm the temperature increased by 0.27–0.28 ° C per decade, and from 20 to 50 cm by as much as 0.30 ° C per decade. On the Kaffiøyra Plain, the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) has a greater influence on the ground an d air temperature than the Arctic Oscillation (AO).
We describe surface currents in the Porsanger fjord (Porsangerfjorden) located in the European Arctic in the vicinity of the Barents Sea. Our analysis is based on surface current data collected in the summer of 2014 using High Frequency (WERA, Helzel Messtechnik GmbH) radar system. One of our objectives was to separate out the tidal from the nontidal components of the currents and to determine the most important tidal constituents. Tides in the Porsanger fjord are substantial, with tidal range on the order of about 3 m. Tidal analysis attributes to tides about 99% of variance in sea level time series recorded in Honningsvaag. The most important tidal component in sea level data is the M2 component, with amplitude of ∼90 cm. The S2 and N2 constituents (amplitude of ∼20 cm) also play a significant role in the semidiurnal sea level oscillations. The most important diurnal component is K1 with amplitude of about 8 cm. The most important tidal component in analyzed surface currents records is the M2 component. The second most important component is the S2. Our results indicate that in contrast to sea level, only about 10-30% of variance in surface currents can be attributed to tidal currents. This means that about 70-90% of variance is due to wind-induced and geostrophic currents.
This paper presents a detailed study of melting processes conducted on Hansbreen - a tidewater glacier terminating in the Hornsund fjord, Spitsbergen. The fieldwork was carried out from April to July 2010. The study included observations of meltwater distribution within snow profiles in different locations and determination of its penetration time to the glacier ice surface. In addition, the variability of the snow temperature and heat transfer within the snow cover were measured. The main objective concerns the impact of meltwater on the diversity of physical characteristics of the snow cover and its melting dynamics. The obtained results indicate a time delay between the beginning of the melting processes and meltwater reaching the ice surface. The time necessary for meltwater to percolate through the entire snowpack in both, the ablation zone and the equilibrium line zone amounted to c. 12 days, despite a much greater snow depth at the upper site. An elongated retention of meltwater in the lower part of the glacier was caused by a higher amount of icy layers (ice formations and melt-freeze crusts), resulting from winter thaws, which delayed water penetration. For this reason, a reconstruction of rain-on-snow events was carried out. Such results give new insight into the processes of the reactivation of the glacier drainage system and the release of freshwater into the sea after the winter period.
The Polish Geophysical Expedition to West Antarctica in 1979-1980 was carried out by the Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences. Beside deep seismic soundings, 12 multi-channel seismic profiles, with a total length of ca 1000 km have been recorded north and east of the South Shetland Islands and in the Bransfield Strait, but they have never before been completely interpreted and published. All profiles have been processed with modern processing flow including time migration. Profiles crossing the South Shetland Trench revealed distinct reflector inside continental slope, which has been interpreted as border between buried accretionary prism and overlying slope sediments of glacial-marine origin. Profiles in the Bransfield Strait show traces of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) in the form of glacial foreground valleys, with some of them used as weak spots for young age volcanic intrusions. This paper is the first comprehensive geological interpretation of collected dataset and differences between results from other expeditions are discussed.
Physical and chemical properties of Arctic soils and especially the properties of surface horizons of the soils are very important because they are responsible for the rate and character of plant colonization, development of vegetation cover, and influence the rate and depth of thawing of soils and development of active layer of permafrost during summer. The main aim of the present study is to determine and explain the spatial diversity of selected physical and chemical properties of surface horizons of Arctic soils from the non-glaciated Fuglebekken catchment located in the Hornsund area (SW Spitsbergen) by means of geostatistical approach. Results indicate that soil surface horizons in the Fuglebekken catchment are characterized by highly variable physical and chemical properties due to a heterogeneous parent material (marine sediments, moraine, rock debris), tundra vegetation types, and non-uniform influence of seabirds. Soils experiencing the strongest influence of seabird guano have a lower pH than other soils. Soils developed on the lateral moraine of the Hansbreen glacier have the highest pH due to the presence of carbonates in the parent material and a lack or presence of a poorly developed and discontinuous A horizon. The soil surface horizons along the coast of the Hornsund exhibit the highest content of the sand fraction and SiO2. The surface of soils occurring at the foot of the slope of Ariekammen Ridge is characterized by the highest content of silt and clay fractions as well as Al2O3, Fe2O3, and K2O. Soils in the central part of the Fuglebekken catchment are depleted in CaO, MgO, and Na2O in comparison with soils in the other sampling sites, which indicates the highest rate of leaching in this part of the catchment.
Although chaetognaths inhabiting polar ecosystems are relatively well known, there are few reports on their functioning in the Antarctic coastal plankton community. The presented results provide the first comprehensive description of population structure of chaetognaths in the neritic zone west of the Antarctic Peninsula. The studies were performed on samples collected in Admiralty Bay, from December 1994 to June 1995. Following six chaetognath species were determined: Eukrohnia hamata, E. bathypelagica, E. fowleri, Pseudosagitta gazellae, P. maxima and Solidosagitta marri. The representatives of Eukrohnia were observed almost throughout the research period, whereas those of Pseudosagitta and Solidosagitta were found only during first four months of our investigation. Eukrohnia hamata showed a strong dominance in respect to abundance (max. 445 ind./1000 m3). The mean abundance of all taxa significantly fluctuated in the study period and across weeks. Generally, all species were represented by the first three maturity stages (I-III), individuals stage IV occurred sporadically, and mature specimens (stage V) were not recorded at all. Morphometric analysis of the most abundant species showed distinct differences in their total length and body proportions. Our findings may suggest that chaetognath populations in Admiralty Bay are migrant, dependent on the inflow of water from the Bransfield Strait, but to prove this statement further, round year study is necessary.
Twenty-three species of crustose Teloschistaceae were collected from the northwest of the Murmansk region of Russia during field trips in 2013 and 2015. Blastenia scabrosa is a new combination supported by molecular data. Blastenia scabrosa, Caloplaca fuscorufa and Flavoplaca havaasii are new to Russia. Blastenia scabrosa is also new to the Caucasus Mts and Sweden. Detailed morphological measurements of the Russian specimens of these species are provided. Caloplaca exsecuta, C. grimmiae and C. sorocarpa are new to the Murmansk region. The taxonomic position of C. alcarum is briefly discussed.
The development of megasporocytes and the functional megaspore formation in Deschampsia antarctica were analyzed with the use of microscopic methods. A single archesporial cell was formed directly under the epidermis in the micropylar region of the ovule without producing a parietal cell. In successive stages of development, the meiocyte was transformed into a megaspore tetrad after meiosis. Most megaspores were arranged in a linear fashion, but some tetrads were T-shaped. Only one of the 60 analyzed ovules contained a cell in the direct proximity of the megasporocyte, which could be an aposporous initial. Most of the evaluated D. antarctica ovules featured monosporic embryo sacs of the Polygonum type. Approximately 30% of ovules contained numerous megaspores that were enlarged. The megaspores were located at chalazal and micropylar poles, and some ovules featured two megaspores - terminal and medial - in the chalazal region, or even three megaspores at the chalazal pole. In those cases, the micropylar megaspore was significantly smaller than the remaining megaspores, and it did not have the characteristic features of functional megaspores. Meiocytes and megaspores of D. antarctica contained polysaccharides that were detectable by PAS-reaction and aniline blue staining. Starch granules and cell walls of megasporocytes, megaspores and nucellar cells were PAS-positive. Fluorescent callose deposits were identified in the micropylar end of the megasporocytes. During meiosis and after its completion, thick callose deposits were also visible in the periclinal walls and in a small amount in the anticlinal walls of megaspores forming linear and T-shaped tetrads. Callose deposits fluorescence was not observed in the walls of the nucellar cells.
The sedimentary environment, sediment characteristics and age−depth models of sediment sequences from Arctic lakes Revvatnet and Svartvatnet, located near the Polish Polar Station in Hornsund, southern Svalbard (77 ° N), were studied with a view to establishing a basis for paleolimnological climate and environmental reconstructions. The results indicate that catchment−to−lake hydroclimatic processes probably affect the transportation, distribution and accumulation of sediments in different parts of lakes Revvatnet and Svartvatnet. Locations with continuous and essentially stable sedimentary environments were found in both lakes between water depths of 9 and 26 m. We used several different dating techniques, including 137 Cs, 210 Pb, AMS 14 C, and paleomagnetic dating, to provide accurate and secured sediment chronologies. A recovered sequence from the northern basin of Revvatnet spans more than one thousand years long with laminated stratigraphy in the upper part of the sediment. Based on AMS 14 C dates, it is possible to suppose that Revvatnet basin was not occupied by a valley glacier during the Little Ice Age. The dates were supported by 137 Cs chronologies, but not confirmed with other independent dating methods that extent beyond the last 50 years. A sedimentary sequence from the northern basin of Svartvatnet provides a potential archive for the study of climate and environmental change for the last ca. 5000 years. Based on the stratigraphy and a Bayesian age−depth model of AMS 14 C and paleosecular variation (PSV) dates, the recovered sediment sections represent a continuous and stable sedimentation for the latter half of the Holocene.
How environmental conditions influence current distributions of organisms at the local scale in sensitive High Arctic freshwaters is essential to understand in order to better comprehend the cascading consequences of the ongoing climate change. This knowledge is also important background data for paleolimnological assessments of long-Term limnoecological changes and in describing the range of environmental variability. We sampled five limnologically different freshwater sites from the Fuglebergsletta marine terrace in Hornsund, southern Svalbard, for aquatic invertebrates. Invertebrate communities were tested against non-climatic environmental drivers as limnological and catchment variables. A clear separation in the communities between the sites was observed. The largest and deepest lake was characterized by a diverse Chironomidae community but Cladocera were absent. In a pond with marine influence, crustaceans, such as Ostracoda, Amphipoda, and calanoid Copepoda were the most abundant invertebrates. Two nutrient-rich ponds were dominated by a chironomid, Orthocladius consobrinus, whereas themost eutrophic pond was dominated by the cladoceran Daphnia pulex, suggesting decreasing diversity along with the trophic status. Overall, nutrient related variables appeared to have an important influence on the invertebrate community composition and diversity, the trophic state of the sites being linked with their exposure to geese guano. Other segregating variables included water color, presence/absence of fish, abundance of aquatic vegetation and lake depth. These results suggest that since most of these variables are climate-driven at a larger scale, the impacts of the ongoing climate change will have cumulative effects on aquatic ecosystems.
Water bears (Tardigrada) are known as one of the most extremophile animals in the world. They inhabit environments from the deepest parts of the oceans up to the highest mountains. One of the most extreme and still poorly studied habitats which tardigrades inhabit are cryoconite holes. We analysed the relation between area, depth, elevation and tardigrades densities in cryoconite holes on four glaciers on Spitsbergen. The mean (±SD) of cryoconite area was 1287.21±2400.8 cm2, while the depth was on average 10.8±11.2 cm, the elevation 172.6±109.66 m a.s.l., and tardigrade density 24.9±33.0 individuals per gram of wet material (n = 38). The densities of tardigrades on Hans Glacier reached values of up to 168 ind. cm3, 104 ind. g-1 wet weight, and 275 ind. g-1 dry weight. The densities of tardigrades of the three glaciers in Billefjorden were up to 82 ind. cm2, 326 ind. g-1 wet weight and 624 ind. g-1 dry weight. Surprisingly, although the model included area, depth and elevation as independent variables, it cannot explain Tardigrada density in cryoconite holes. We propose that due to the rapid melting of the glacier surface in the Arctic, the constant flushing of cryoconite sediments, and inter-hole water-sediment mixing, the functioning of these ecosystems is disrupted. We conclude that cryoconite holes are dynamic ecosystems for microinvertebrates in the Arctic.
In October 2011 I was nominated by the President of the Audio Engineering Society as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. My responsibility began in November. Due to large workload of new duties, with this issue I will end my work as Editor-in-Chief of Archives of Acoustics. Beginning from the next issue of 2012, the new Editor-in-Chief, professor Andrzej Nowicki, the Director of the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research (IPPT PAN) of Polish Academy of Sciences will take over the editorial duties. His scientific achievements in acoustics will guarantee the quality of the journal's further development towards strong international position. I was fortunate to have followed in the footsteps of such outstanding Editors-in-Chief of Archives of Acoustics as profs. Leszek Filipczy?ski and Tadeusz Powa?owski, and to have served them both as Associate Editor. I will always be grateful for the possibility to learn editorial skills from them, and to continue the valuable work of my predecessors.
Simultaneous perception of audio and visual stimuli often causes concealment or misrepresentation of information actually contained in these stimuli. Such effects are called the "image proximity effect" or the "ventriloquism effect" in the literature. Until recently, most research carried out to understand their nature was based on subjective assessments. The authors of this paper propose a methodology based on both subjective and objectively retrieved data. In this methodology, objective data reflect the screen areas that attract most attention. The data were collected and processed by an eye-gaze tracking system. To support the proposed methodology, two series of experiments were conducted - one with a commercial eye-gaze tracking system Tobii T60, and another with the Cyber-Eye system developed at the Multimedia Systems Department of the Gdańsk University of Technology. In most cases, the visual-auditory stimuli were presented using a 3D video. It was found that the eye-gaze tracking system did objectivize the results of experiments. Moreover, the tests revealed a strong correlation between the localization of a visual stimulus on which a participant's gaze focused and the value of the "image proximity effect". It was also proved that gaze tracking may be useful in experiments which aim at evaluation of the proximity effect when presented visual stimuli are stereoscopic.