It would not have been possible to carry out the research for the present volume without the financial support provided by the Nicholas Copernicus University in Torun. For their assistance in securing this support I would like to thank the Vice-Rector for Research and International Relations Prof. Marek Zaidlewicz, the Dean of the Faculty of Biology and Earth Sciences Prof. Andrzej Tretyn, the Director of the NCU Institute of Geography Prof. Jan Falkowski, and the Administrative Director Dr. Krzysztof R. Lankauf. I would also like to register my appreciation for the opportunity to make two research visits to the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge - the months I spent there allowed me to gain access to the materials on which the greater part of the present work is based. In particular I would like to thank the library staff at the Institute under the direction of William Mills, whose assistance contributed greatly to the project.

I would sincerely like to thank the anonymous reviewers of the study, whose comments and criticisms were extremely helpful in drawing my attention to improving certain sections of the text. Obviously any faults which remain in the text are my own.

I am very grateful to Krystyna Czetwertynska, Anita Krawiec, and Zsuzsanna Vizi for contributing their knowledge and computer expertise in reproducing the graphics for the book.

Special warm thanks to John Kearns for improving my English, and to my editor at Kluwer, Marie Johnson, for her assistance in the preparation of this book.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my wife Dorota for assisting me in many ways and for all her personal support, particularly during the periods which I had to spend away from home.

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