News - Changing climate and northern environment

31.8.2020 News

The big melt: Greenland Ice Sheet thinning

The UArctic Research Chair, Professor Jeff Welker, University of Oulu, Finland and University of Alaska Anchorage, has co-authored a new set of discoveries regarding thinning and melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet.

12.8.2020 News

Global perspective to the study of Arctic water systems

The associate professor of Resource Management in Arctic Environment has come to the field of Arctic studies via an unusual path. Ali Torabi Haghighi worked for years in water resources engineering and lecturing in his native Iran. Relocation to Finland gave him both challenges and inspiration. 

17.6.2020 News

Multidisciplinary solutions for sustainable water management

Tenure track professor for arctic research Hannu Marttila is keen on fishing and multidisciplinary research and wants to advance sustainable water management via science. He is the leader of Northern Hydrology research group at Water, Energy and Environmental engineering research unit. 

1.6.2020 News

Visiting glaciology professor chases Arctic adventures

From Arctic to Antarctica, Professor of glaciology Alun Hubbard enjoys the remote wilderness and looking for Polar adventures. As a visiting professor in University of Oulu he has the chance to widen his perspectives. 

22.4.2020 News

Big changes for birds

In the world of birds, the winds of change are blowing. Climate change affects bird living conditions during migration as well as in the wintering and nesting areas. Many bird species suffer, some benefit.

15.4.2020 News

Not only temperature controls the nutrient cycle in the Arctic

Researchers from Umeå University, Germany and Finland discover novel mechanism clarifying the slow nutrient cycling in Arctic soils. Absence of earthworms can explain why Arctic plants are starving for nitrogen. The study was published 14.4.2020 in the prestigious Nature Communications.

15.4.2020 News

The Sun surprised an experienced solar researcher

The corona of the Sun has shrunk as solar magnetic activity has slowed down in recent decades. The Sun's magnetic activity has been modelled up to a thousand years back, but there are no reliable forecasts for the coming decades available yet.

9.4.2020 News

Saami Culture Archive plays important role for research in the North

The University of Oulu maintains the Saami Culture Archive, which has been keeping a record of life in the Saami area for over a century. The digitalisation of the archive materials has been supported by donations made to the university, and so now it is easier than ever to make use of the archive in research and teaching. With the help of students and researchers with skills in the Saami languages, the secrets of the archive are now also being opened up for use in multidisciplinary research in the northern regions.

1.4.2020 News

New understanding of microscopic droplets with implications for climate predictions

Poor understanding of the formation mechanism of cloud droplets introduces the biggest uncertainty in current climate models. A joint study between the Atmospheric Research Group (ATMOS) led by Associate Professor Nønne Prisle at University of Oulu and researchers at the School of Chemistry at University of Bristol provides the first direct evidence quantifying the elusive role of surface-active compounds in cloud formation, based on laboratory measurements and model calculations. These observations allow proper inclusion of this phenomenon into atmospheric and climate models.

18.3.2020 News

Solar wind driven particle precipitation affects winter climate in polar regions

Changes in space climate driven by long-term changes in solar activity have a significant impact on Earth’s atmosphere and climate. Understanding the complex system requires cooperation between space physics and climate science.

6.2.2020 News

The invasive Argentine ant has seasonal viruses

Argentine ants are one of the most successful invasive species in the world. Scientist from University of Oulu and University of Girona, Spain, have previously identified viruses from the invasive Argentine ants of the Mediterranean region and found several new virus species. Now the researchers studied the ant’s virus ecology, because loss of pathogen may help an invasive species succeed in a new environment.

6.2.2020 News

Solitary bees learn from their neighbours

A new study has found that mason bees, which are a type of solitary bee, use interspecies social information when selecting a nest hole. Mason bees observe and remember the nesting preferences and success of previous nesting species. They copy the previous nesting species if their nests show themselves to be successful. If the nesting of the previous nesting species shows itself to be a failure, the female mason bees chose another nesting hole.


14.1.2020 News

High environmental radiation does not affect viruses

Previous studies have shown that bank voles that have been exposed to environmental radiation have immune suppression and cellular changes that might promote virus replication. However, the effect of environmental radiation on viruses in wild populations have not been studied before. Bank voles host many zoonotic viruses, such as hantaviruses that causes hemorrhagic fever in humans.


3.1.2020 News

New viruses found from the common glow-worm

Like all creatures, glow-worms host viruses. We studied glow-worm transcriptomes from animals collected from Finland and identified 11 new virus species. The viruses belonged to nine different virus families, among them Flaviridae.


22.11.2019 News

The global distribution of freshwater plants is controlled by catchment characteristics

Unlike land plants, photosynthesis in many aquatic plants relies on bicarbonate in addition to CO2 to compensate for the low availability of CO2 in water. A study in Science by Iversen and co-authors shows that the abundance of plant species with the ability to use bicarbonate increases in hard water lakes with greater bicarbonate concentrations.

21.11.2019 News

Detection of the highest-energy photons from a gamma-ray burst reported in Nature

Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are the most violent explosions in the Universe suddenly appearing in the sky, about once per day. They are thought to result from the collapse of massive stars or the merging of neutron stars in distant galaxies. They commence with an initial, very bright flash, called the prompt emission, with a duration ranging from a fraction of a second to hundreds of seconds. The prompt emission is accompanied by the so-called afterglow, a weaker but longer-lasting emission over a broad range of wavelengths that fades with time. 

20.11.2019 News

The number of students enrolled for the module was a pleasant surprise is a multidisciplinary study module that deals with the science of climate change and how to prevent it and adapt to it. The module is open to anyone who is interested and can be completed through extensive online resources.

28.10.2019 News

Winter CO2 emissions dominate arctic and boreal C feedback processes

UArctic Research Chair, Professor Jeff Welker (University of Oulu & University of Alaska) has been one of the global leaders in the study of Arctic winter ecology and biogeochemistry since the 1990’s.  Winter is the dominant season in the Arctic but typically the most neglected part of the international Arctic research agenda, until now. 


11.10.2019 News

Ice sheet sourced rivers deliver ancient C and nutrients to the Arctic Ocean

UArctic Research Chair, Professor Jeff Welker (University of Oulu and University of Alaska) has been one of the few terrestrial ecologists studying the periglacial landscapes in the High Arctic of NW Greenland over the past 20 years.  His program in High Arctic Biocomplexity began a multi-decade program addressing the extent to which physical, chemical and biological processes interact in unique ways at the margins of the Greenland Ice Sheet and in the nearby Arctic Ocean.

5.9.2019 News

Eva Pongrácz aims to understand people and sustainable development

Professor Eva Pongrácz, from the Water, Energy and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, wants to solve the problems of the world through cooperation. According to her, what happens around the world touches all of us.

7.6.2019 News

Professor Welker with his colleagues contributes to MOSAiC expedition

Jeff Welker, UArctic Research Chair and Professor of the University of Oulu and the University of Alaska Anchorage, and colleagues from across the Arctic will be contributing to MOSAiC, the largest Arctic scientific expedition, with their studies of the Arctic Water Isotope Cycle.

4.6.2019 News

Long-term research on plant communities in the endangered tundra

The combined effects of reindeer grazing and climate change on Arctic vegetation are largely unknown, says Risto Virtanen, Senior Curator at the University of Oulu Botanical Museum.

“The tundra is the real Arctic. There are individual plant species that react individually to these change factors. We are interested in what happens at the community level.”

29.5.2019 News

Corpse management of an invasive ant inhibits spread of pathogenic fungi

Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) is an invasive pest that has spread from South America during the past 160 years to all over the world, including Europe, North America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The ant is able to reduce biodiversity by displacing native species, inflict damage to infrastructure and agriculture, and cause domestic nuisance.

14.5.2019 News

Permafrost inspired to ponder the interaction between Arctic nature and humans

When humans change the environment via construction and land use, natural processes also change in those areas. Professor of Physical Geography Jan Hjort from the Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu points out that at a local scale these changes can also have a pleasant effect.

28.3.2019 News

Cosmic-Ray Research team invited to AMS-02-collaboration for search of dark matter from the space

The Cosmic-Ray research team of the University of Oulu has been invited to join, from 2019 onwards, a large and famous international research collaboration called AMS-02, Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which is the most sophisticated modern space-borne cosmic-ray experiment.


15.1.2019 News

The University of Oulu significantly strengthens its commitment to Arctic research – open vacancies for five top researchers

The significant changes affecting the northern areas of the Arctic region are becoming an increasingly pressing matter on the global stage. By seeking to strengthen its commitment to Arctic research, the University of Oulu hopes to respond to the many challenges associated with the polar region. Currently, the university has five new vacancies for established or up-and-coming researchers, with the successful candidates set to become part of the university's new Arctic Interactions (ArcI) research programme.

17.12.2018 News

The thaw of permafrost is a threat for Arctic cities and industries


Built environment in northern areas is at risk as the climate warms up. According to international research led by Finnish geographers, as much as 70% of the infrastructure in Arctic areas of permafrost is at risk as the climate warms up.


29.10.2018 News

The key to sufficient water supply is in our hands

Snow melt runoff and groundwater abstraction are the most used form of fresh water globally, but the supply is diminishing throughout the world. The problem is expected to worsen with ongoing climate change. Professor Björn Klöve, Director of the Water Resources and Environmental Engineering unit at the University of Oulu, offers a scientific take on the issue.

10.10.2018 News

Autumn leaves feed flowing waters

Did you know that the autumn leaves falling into rivers and streams from trees are an important source of nutrition for aquatic organisms? The leaves are attacked by different kinds on zoobenthos, which shred and grind them for nutrition. Climate change is even expected to change the volume of the mass of leaves remaining in flowing waters: when the autumn precipitation still increases from the current level, the flow rates will increase and the leaves falling into rivers will be carried farther away than they used to be. This will change the water ecosystem as well.

7.9.2018 News

Rivers are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions in Arctic areas

Rivers in Arctic areas constitute a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, and especially of carbon dioxide emissions. An international research project has found that the amount of carbon being released from rivers into the atmosphere is larger than previously estimated in the world’s most extensive peat regions in Western Siberia. As the climate warms up, the melting permafrost exposes the huge peat areas in the region, and the organic carbon within this peat can then escape into the atmosphere and accelerate climate change.

8.8.2018 News

Climate change multiplies the number of deaths from excess heat

Climate change is increasing the number and intensity of heat waves globally.

6.8.2018 News

Living close to Chernobyl alters the gut bacteria of wild animals

Researchers at the Universities of Oulu and Jyväskylä, together with their collaborators in the US and France, have shown that wild animals living in areas contaminated by radioactive material have a different community of bacteria within their digestive system (the gut microbiome) compared with animals that do not live in areas affected by an increase in radiation.

28.6.2018 News

Organic materials from the subsurface oceans of Saturn’s moon Enceladus

The spacecraft Cassini has identified complex organic substances in material that comes from Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. This finding supports the idea that the water beneath the ice of this moon harbors conditions that might be suitable for life.

2.5.2018 News

A tit gives a pied flycatcher information about good nesting spots

The neighbourly relationship between the European pied flycatcher and the great tit provides valuable information about behaviour between the species. Species living in the same area are not only in competition with each other, but also model their behaviour following each other’s example.


23.4.2018 News

Julius Bartels Medal to Professor Ilya Usoskin

The 2018 Julius Bartels Medal is awarded to Ilya G. Usoskin, Professor of space physics at the University of Oulu, for his key contributions to long-term changes of cosmic rays and solar activity. Julius Bartels Medal is awarded by the European Geosciences Union EGU, which is the Europe’s premier geosciences union. It describes Usoskin as a founder of the space climate discipline.



20.3.2018 News

Climate models predict changes to flows and biota of northern rivers

The habitats of species in Finland's flowing waters will move northward as climate change causes temperatures to rise. In addition, seasonal fluctuation in the flow of rivers will become more irregular than it is now. Small headwater streams will experience greater changes in flora and fauna than larger rivers, according to a study by the Finnish Environment Institute and the University of Oulu.

30.1.2018 News

A publication on solar activity became the most popular online

Professor Ilya Usoskin’s article titled A history of solar activity over the millennia has become the most read Springer online publication in astronomy.  Published in March 2017, the article has been downloaded more than 7600 times.

4.9.2017 News

Grazing protects tundra plant diversity in a warming climate

Climate warming decreases number of plant species in tundra, but plant-eating animals, such as reindeer and voles, can switch this negative effect to positive. The results by a Finnish-Swedish researcher team are published today in Nature Communications. Findings by the researcher team show that grazers allow more plant species to grow together and benefit from warmer conditions by decreasing biomass of tall and wide-leaved plants and increasing light availability.

6.4.2017 News

Atmospheric impact of the strongest known solar particle storm assessed

An exceptional solar particle storm, the strongest during the last ten thousands of years, is able to perturb the polar stratosphere for at least one year and lead to winter temperature rises up to several degrees centigrade in the Northern Hemisphere. Knowing the effects of a worst-case scenario of such a hazardous event will help in risk evaluation for solar particle storms.

10.11.2016 News

Genome shows the adaptability of the pine

The pine (Pinus sylvestris) does not reach maturity instantly. Therefore, it is useful to be able to ask them at an early stage: “What will you be when you grow up?”. Individual pines will answer the question with their genes.