Arctic Hare  photo_Pixabay

Science goes Arctic attitude

The Arctic region is going through major changes. Changes in climate, land-use and extraction of natural resources affect the ecosystems and the human societies in the Arctic. The changes we face are global and stretch to all areas of life. To rise to the challenge of taking better care of the Arctic we need quality research. Arctic Interactions and Global Change (ArcI) is a scientific profile area of University of Oulu and has been working since 2018 to tackle the problems we face in the Arctic region.

As a profile area, we are not a new research group or a project, nor are we tied to one discipline. Our goal is to integrate, strengthen and expand Arctic research in the University of Oulu. We bring together scientists and stakeholders from different disciplines and areas to create sustainable solutions for the Arctic.

What kind of research are we doing?

ArcI has three main research themes. The first goes under the headline “Global change and northern environments”. Areas of interest under this theme include (but are not limited to) studies in geodiversity, permafrost thaw feedbacks, snow dynamics, peatland hydrology, biodiversity effects on ecosystem resilience and health, trace gas feedbacks, and interactions among organisms within and among trophic levels.

The second theme is “Human-environment relationships”.  The viewpoints of this research theme come from social sciences and humanities. Research covers cultural histories and traditional environmental knowledge of natural resource uses in various scales. The goal is to identify key cultural conceptions, values and practices that are important for adapting to changing environmental and societal conditions from past to present and future.  Sami culture, from reindeer herding to modern Sami identity, reflecting in politics, media and art, is on the focus of this theme.

“Sustainable systems, resource use and development” functions as the third theme in ArcI. The goal is to provide sustainable solutions for urbanisation, infrastructure, water and environmental protection, human health and good quality of life. The prime areas are energy and environmental engineering as well as architecture and planning.

Who is involved?

Several faculties and research groups in University of Oulu are involved in ArcI. ArcI is led by Bjørn Kløve, Director of Kvantum Institute and professor in water, energy and environmental engineering. The vice-chair, professor and Research Director of the University of Arctic Jeffrey Welker works both in Oulu and in Alaska. The Kvantum Institute is responsible for coordination.

Each research theme has its own leader. Our principal investigators (PIs) come from different faculties and research areas.

In addition to the PIs in University of Oulu, we are recruiting skilled scientists with an Arctic attitude in five tenure track packages which fit into the three research themes. Three positions are filled at the moment. Our tenures represent architecture, hydrology and environmental engineering. We have a goal of recruiting ten to fifteen post doc -scientists.

We collaborate with partners like the ArcticFive universities and other universities and research institutes in the Arctic area to make the most out of Arctic research.

What is achieved?

ArcI aspires to establish an international Arctic research community in University of Oulu. We want to be seen as promoters in Arctic research both in Finland and internationally. One of our main goals is to strengthen the collaboration between Arctic universities. Increased co-operation leads to growing research impact of University of Oulu in pan-Arctic consortiums.

The community we create is interdisciplinary. Cutting-edge research in co-operation with different disciplines to solve problems and mitigate global change in the Arctic is needed. The changes the Arctic is going through do not follow the boundaries of disciplines. Why should we.

ArcI strengthens the co-operation with state research institutes. We share research infrastructure, data and field stations with our partners to achieve the best quality in research. Links are built with different stakeholders representing ministries, regional government, indigenous peoples, wildlife services, companies, nature protection groups and others.

Co-operation in Arctic areas to understand and mitigate global change will increase through ArcI. Supporting the Arctic attitude and creating a sense of shared Arctic identity both in Oulu and internationally is an important part of ArcI.

What have we done so far?

We have managed to raise the profile of University of Oulu as a notable and internationally recognized actor in the field of Arctic research. University of Oulu is a notable partner for international co-operation.

The co-operation regarding Pallas Atmosphere-Ecosystem Supersite and Oulanka research stations is successful. We are also participating remotely to MOSAiC, a vast international expedition to the Arctic Sea. We are also focusing to the fields of archaeology and cultural anthropology and developing the Saami Culture Archive.

How to engage?

Check out our webpage and science stories! Spot us on UniOulu’s social media accounts with hashtags #arcticinteractions and #arci_oulu . Don’t forget to follow our researchers’ social media accounts!

Text: Aino Soutsalmi

Last updated: 30.4.2020