The present work would not have come into being but for numerous individuals and institutions, whom I wish to thank warmly.

My first thanks must be to Prof. Gabriel Wojcik for suggesting the subject of the work, great consideration he showed while I was writing the work, for supporting my research efforts, for invaluable assistance relating to methodology and content, and for much more besides. I also extend my gratitude to the authorities of the Institute of Geography at the Nicholas Copernicus University (NCU), namely Prof. Zygmunt Churski and Dr. Krzysztof Roman Lankauf, for their help in my successful application for an NCU grant and for other forms of financial support for my research.

I was offered extensive help from various people when collecting the climatic data necessary for the work to be completed. Above all I want to thank Prof. Andrzej Jamiolkowski who, as Vice-Rector of the NCU, provided me with funds and academic leave to conduct research at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute in St. Petersburg (October to November 1992) and in the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen (February 1993). These visits enabled me to gather very precious and otherwise unavailable climatic data, along with extensive literature. I also wish to express my gratitude to Dr. John Heap, the Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) at the University of Cambridge, for inviting me to the Institute in June 1994 and January 1995 and making available to me its extensive library. The SPRI librarian, William Mills, and his colleagues were also very helpful. I would like to thank Prof. Wlodzislaw Duch, the TEMPUS coordinator, for awarding me with two scholarships enabling me to go to Cambridge. I am also deeply grateful to the following individuals for making available to me various climatic data, as well as data concerning the Arctic climatic system: Bjoern Aune from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute in Oslo, Dr. Alexander Alekseevich Dementev from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute at St. Petersburg, Povl Frich from the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen, Prof. Phil Jones from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Dr. Jaroslav Strestik from the Czech Academy of Science in Prague, Mike Webb from the Canadian Climatic Centre in Toronto, and Prof. Genadiy K. Zubakin from the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute at St. Petersburg. I also thank the National Climatic Data Centre (NCDC) in Asheville, USA, for sending me the data from Barrow station.

My special thanks go to Dr. Kazimierz Borkowski for writing most of the computer programmes which enabled us to process statistically the data that were gathered. I am also grateful to Dr. Jerzy Usowicz from the Department of Radio Astronomy at the NCU for writing a computer programme which calculates periodicity in time series using a method of spectrum analysis in relation to eigenvalues, and for many valuable conversations on the subject.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Anna Rochnowska for drawing most of the figures used in the present work.

I wish to thank my colleagues from our Department (Dr. Marek Kejna, Dr. Kazimierz Marciniak, and Zsuzsanna Vizi) for their kindness and assistance planning the curriculum so that during certain periods of the year I could concentrate exclusively on the present work.

It is a pleasure to thank the reviewers of the work, Prof. Andrzej Marsz and Prof. Gabriel Wójcik for their comments and suggestions, as well as for discussions on certain issues which contributed to the final shape of the work.

I also want to express my gratitude to my wife Dorota and my daughter Ania for their patience, thoughtfulness, and spiritual support.

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