Antarctica – A unique location for the testing of polymers



The Johann Gregor Mendel Czech Antarctic Station (JGM), located in the northern part of James Ross Island in Antarctica, provides a facility for research in many scientific disciplines, such as geography, geology, climatology and biology. In 2015 its activities were extended by the testing of plastics. When synthetic polymers, often referred to as plastics, are exposed to outdoor conditions they undergo irreversible changes due to the absorption of incident solar UV radiation and the consequent reactions with oxygen. Their stability and reliability for outdoor applications are tested through weathering at various locations around the world. Until 2015, when systematic research into plastics started at the JGM, no information on the resistance of plastics to the Antarctic climate was available. 

weathering; plastics; polymers; degradation; outdoor exposure; Antarctica

Audouin, L., Girois, S., Achimsky, L. and Verdu J. (1998): Effect of temperature on photooxidation of polypropylene films. Polymer Degradation and Stability, 60: 137-143.

Aun, M., Lakkala, K., Sanchez, R., Asmi, E., Nollas, F., Meinander, O., Sogacheva, L., De Bock, V., Arola, A., De Leeuw, G., Aaltonen, V., Bolsée, D., Cizkova, K., Mangold, A., Metelka, L., Jakobson, E., Svendby, T., Gillotay, D. and Van Opstal, B. (2020): Solar UV radiation measurements in Marambio, Antarctica, during years 2017–2019. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 20: 6037-6054.

Bernhard, G., Stierle, S. (2020): Trends of UV Radiation in Antarctica. Atmosphere, 11(8): 795.

Brown, R. (1999): Handbook of polymer testing, physical methods. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, Basel, 860 p., pp. 730–742.

Čížková, K., Láska, K., Metelka, L. and Staněk, M. (2023): Assessment of spectral UV radiation at Marambio Base, Antarctic Peninsula. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 23: 4617-4636.

Farman, J. C., Gardiner, B. G. and Shanklin, J. D. (1985): Large losses of total ozone in Antarctica reveal seasonal ClOx/NOx interaction. Nature, 315: 207-210.

Hassler, B., Bodeker, G. E., Solomon, S. and Young, P. J. (2011): Changes in the polar vortex: Effects on Antarctic total ozone observations at various stations. Geophysical Research Letters, 38: L01805.

Kaplan-Pastíriková, L., Hrbáček, F., Uxa, T. and Láska, K. (2023): Permafrost table temperature and active layer thickness variability on James Ross Island, Antarctic Peninsula, in 2004–2021. Science of The Total Environment, 869: 161690.

Kavan, J., Ondruch, J., Nývlt, D., Hrbáček, F., Carrivick, J. L. and Láska, K. (2017): Seasonal hydrological and suspended sediment transport dynamics in proglacial streams, James Ross Island, Antarctica. Geografiska Annaler Series A-Physical Geography, 99: 38-55.

Kavan, J., Dagsson-Waldhauserova, P., Renard, J. B., Láska, K. and Ambrožová, K. (2018): Aerosol concentrations in relationship to local atmospheric conditions on James Ross Island, Antarctica. Frontiers in Earth Science, 6: 207.

King, J. C. (1994): Recent climate variability in the vicinity of the Antarctic Peninsula. International Journal of Climatology, 14: 357-369.

Láska, K., Prošek, P., Budík, L., Budíková, M. and Milinevsky, G. (2010): Estimation of solar UV radiation in maritime Antarctica using a nonlinear model including cloud effects. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 31: 831-849.

Láska, K., Barták, M., Hájek, J., Prošek, P. and Bohuslavová, O. (2011): Climatic and ecological characteristics of deglaciated area of James Ross Island, Antarctica, with a special respect to vegetation cover. Czech Polar Reports, 1(1): 49-62.

Petkov, B. H., Láska, K., Vitale, V., Lanconelli, C., Lupi, A., Mazzola, M. and Budíková, M. (2016): Variability in solar irradiance observed at two contrasting Antarctic sites. Atmospheric Research, 172–173: 126-135.

Pickett, J. E., Gibson, D. A., Rice, S. T. and Gardner, M. M. (2008): Effects of temperature on the weathering of engineering thermoplastics. Polymer Degradation and Stability, 93: 684-691.

Prošek, P., Barták, M., Láska, K., Suchánek, A., Hájek, J. and Kapler, P. (2013): Facilities of J.G. Mendel Antarctic station: Technical and technological solutions with a special respect to energy sources. Czech Polar Reports, 3(1): 38-57.

Solomon, S. (1999): Stratospheric ozone depletion: A review of concepts and history. Reviews of Geophysics, 37: 275-316.

Tocháček, J., Vrátníčková, Z. (2014): Polymer life-time prediction: The role of temperature in UV accelerated ageing of polypropylene and its copolymers. Polymer Testing, 36: 82-87.

Tocháček, J., Láska, K., Bálková, R., Krmíček, L., Merna, J., Tupý, M., Kapler, P., Poláček, P., Čížková, K. and Buráň, Z. (2019): Polymer weathering in Antarctica. Polymer Testing, 77: 105898.

Wypych, G. (2013): Handbook of material weathering. 5th Edition, ChemTec Publishing, Toronto 2013, 828 p., ISBN 978-1-895198-62-1, pp. 105–122.

Web sources / Other sources

[1] Weathering Testing Guidebook, ATLAS MTS Publication No. 2062/098/200/AA/03/01, U.S.A. 2001.



Crossref logo


web of science logo




PDF views