Where the Poles met

Last two weeks have been super intensive. The reason is the Polar2018 meeting, a gathering of both Arctic and Antarctic research communities that brought together more than two thousand people to Davos in Switzerland. And of course INTERACT was there, too!

For me the highlight of the week was the INTERACT TA User Community Meeting that took place as a side meeting of the Open Science Conference on Wednesday last week. We had close to forty participants, including many of our TA Users and INTERACT Station representatives. The programme consisted of research highlights, station presentations and we also took the opportunity to introduce the INTERACT Virtual Access and related possibilities for research via open access to station databases and monitoring data.

Photo by Kirsi Latola.

The best of all for me was the opportunity to meet our TA Users, with whom I have so often exchanged e-mails and met over webinars and telecons, but never met face-to-face. It was such a delight to finally meet them and hear them present their research conducted with support by INTERACT Transnational Access.

Photo by Kirsi Latola.

As always, it was a pleasure to meet the station managers to learn about some recent developments in the station facilities and also to hear their experiences on the collaboration with the TA User Groups. The positive atmosphere, networking and exchange of ideas was heartfelt and I am already looking forward to the next TA User Community in 2019!


In addition to the TA User Community meeting, my week was filled with meetings of different scientific organizations, where I am either representing my home institution such as the European Polar Board, or where INTERACT is involved such as GEO Cold Regions Initiative and SAON Committee on Observations and Networks. All these meetings were also really interesting and productive, and great progress was made towards several goals approaching in the near future! And of course the magnificent views in Davos, which I had a possibility to admire during my morning runs before the congress programme kicked-off for the day!

Photo by Hannele Savela.

Returning back to office on Monday I felt somewhat exhausted, but at the same time very content. Now things are going to calm down a bit for July, before speeding up again in August as we approach the UArctic Congress 2018 that will take place here on the first week of September. As a member of the organizing committee, I look forward to welcome many of my arctic colleagues to Oulu then!

Until the next time,




It’s finally spring!

And what a spring! It’s been unusually warm for the past couple weeks here in Finland, and we already now have leaves on the trees by mid-May! It’s not only the spring weather that has been busy here, but we’ve also had an extremely hectic times here at the TA Coordination office, as you can see from the following.

The summery photo is not from Finland or any Arctic place, but from Puglia area in southern Italy, where we recently had the INTERACT Daily Management Group meeting -it was really beautiful there, too, even though the north is still the closest to my heart!

The new TA User Groups were selected in March, and we will have 47 TA/RA User Groups working at the INTERACT stations in the summer 2018 and autumn/winter 2018-2019 field seasons. We’ve already hosted a webinar to the User Groups to instruct with practical matters related to TA and RA, and to welcome them to the several TA User Community activities that we are arranging around the year.


Recently, we also launched our INTERACT TA Ambassadors, whom you can meet at various congresses and meetings during the year to chat about TA and related opportunities. Learn more about the TA Ambassadors from the dedicated webpages!

The new season of INTERACT Arctic Research Blogs is about to start within the next couple weeks, when the first TA User Groups start their work at the stations. We already have many bloggers recruited for the summer, both seasoned bloggers from the previous field seasons and complete newcomers. Looking forward to follow the adventures of the scientists in their Arctic fieldwork!

The next TA User Community meeting will take place during the gathering of both Arctic and Antarctic scientists -the Polar 2018 meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting will be about different modalities of TA, including Remote and Virtual Access and related opportunities for research. The meeting will take place on Wed 20th June at 12:30-14:00 in Room A Wisshorn and it’s open for all congress participants. Come to meet us, if you are attending the Polar 2018!

Until the next time,


Closures and new beginnings

Another year has passed and a new year is beginning. For me, this has always been time to look back and reflect the events that took place over the past year, and after that put the past behind and start looking towards the opportunities and challenges lying ahead.

The past year, especially the autumn, was really busy as we introduced several new activities and initiatives here at INTERACT TA coordination. One of the biggest things was to establish and launch a new modality of Transnational Access, the INTERACT Virtual Access, that is now up and running, and will be expanding over the spring to cover more and more stations. Secondly, a lot of time and effort was used -together with our partner CLU- to develop, test and launch the new functionalities of INTERACCESS that is our on-line TA management interface. Then of course we also had the TA/RA Call open and the applications for access in s/s 2018 and a/w 2018-19 are now being evaluated. Decisions will be announced by the end of January.









The new year has begun with a launch of yet another new activity, as we are now seeking INTERACT TA Ambassadors among our previous TA Users. It will be exciting to see how this new activity develops and announce the Ambassadors later in the spring! We also have a RA Call open until the end of January, and the following evaluation and decision process will take place in Feb-April.

On 30th January we will also arrange a Webinar on Drones as a TA User Community event. More information to those of you interested in participating the webinar can be found from our TA User Community webpages.

Happy and Successful New Year 2018 to everyone!


It’s time to apply TA!

With September starting up, the autumn has arrived. As the summer field season is approaching to its end, it’s time to start planning of the forthcoming research activities. For that, we have now opened the Transnational Access call for projects taking place between March 2018 and April 2019.

You can learn more about the Transnational Access (including the possibility for Remote Access) and the ongoing call from the INTERACT website. The call is closing on 13th October, so there is plenty of time to submit an application to conduct research at any (or many!) of the 43 research stations offering Transnational Access in INTERACT.

We will arrange two webinars, one on 11th Sept (09:00 CEST) and one on 12th Sept (15:00 CEST), to provide information about the TA call and Transnational and Remote Access in general. Links to the webinars are available together with other information about the call at the TA Call web pages.

Join the webinars to learn more about the possibilities offered, and apply INTERACT TA to conduct research at the coolest places of the North!


After the Midsummer

It’s hard to believe, but we are already past the Midsummer! Before the Midsummer time always seems to go so fast, then suddenly pause for the Midsummer, and then extend for the rest of the summer in July and August. Perhaps it’s because of all the anticipation us Finns have for summer after the long and dark winter; the much awaited and precious white nights, warmth and green of the summer seem always to go past us too fast. This feeling has been especially strong this summer. First of all because the summer arrived so late –it was still snowing and no leaves on the trees here in Oulu on the first week of June! Secondly, because the summer -once it arrived- has been so cold. We’ve had only couple days with temperature above 20 degrees; mostly it has been well below that and raining. The only good consequence that I’ve figured out from this miserable summer weather has been that there are still not mosquitoes around –it has been too cold for even them to develop!

Well, we celebrated the Midsummer anyways, because that’s the tradition, and after all it was a very nice occasion. Like most other Finns, we went to the summer cabin to meet relatives, and to enjoy barbecue food and smoked fish, and to have sauna by the lake. In addition, we went for a little hike to visit the Hepoköngäs waterfall, from where the following photos were taken.























The waterfall is located in a nature conservation area in the municipality of Puolanka in the Kainuu region in eastern Finland. The height of the waterfall is 18 m, which makes it one of the highest in Finland. The place was really beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by old forest.

Many people already started their summer holidays from the Midsummer, but after the visit to the summer cabin and to the waterfalls, it feels like I have renewed my energies for the next weeks, before starting my holidays later in July for another trip to Eastern Finland! More about that in the next post!





Access goes remote

Last week, we opened our very first continuous call in the history of INTERACT. The call is for a new modality of Transnational Access called Remote Access.  The idea of Remote Access is that the user group does not physically visit the station(s) themselves, but the experienced station staff instead conducts the study and collects the samples for the user group according to their research plan. This provides cost-efficiency, especially in comparative studies taking place at many stations, because there are no travel costs. The logistic costs and the staff-time required to conduct the study are included into the granted Remote Access.

The RA call information can be found from the INTERACT website, and the applications are submitted on-line in the INTERACCESS system. The call and evaluation procedure, as well as the project reporting, are the same as in the regular Transnational Access.

Altogether 17 stations offer Remote Access (RA) in INTERACT. Detailed information about the facilities available at each station can be found from the INTERACT Field Sites descriptions.

The call for Remote Access is continuous, so it’s open around the year and applications with subsequent RA decisions are evaluated four times per year.

We hope to receive many good applications for this new modality of Transnational Access, and look forward to see with interest what kind of ideas and innovations for Remote Access projects the scientific community will come up with!

Until the next time,




Yet another work trip took place last week, when I represented INTERACT at the EGU2017 meeting in Vienna. The meeting was by far the biggest science event I’ve ever been to, below you can find some impressive statistics about the event, obtained from the congress webpages:

The meeting had 14 496 attendants from 107 countries with 4849 oral and 11 312 poster and 1238 PICO presentations. The programme of the week consisted from 649 scientific sessions, 88 short courses and 322 side events. No wonder a person like me from a small northern community was feeling a bit overwhelmed at times from the sheer magnitude of the event.

Once I got over my astonishment on the first day of the event, I greatly enjoyed working at the ENVRI+ booth, where INTERACT was represented as one of the infrastructures, and meeting hundreds and hundreds of people to whom tell about our project and the possibilities related to Transnational Access.


In addition, we had our very first face-to-face TA User Community meeting as a side event of the congress. We did not perhaps have the biggest amount of people attending the meeting, but however had a great atmosphere at the meeting, sharing information on each other’s work and developing new ideas and collaborations. Also, many of our TA Users came to say hello to me at the booth -it was absolutely fantastic to finally meet the people with whom I’ve been exchanging numerous e-mails and but never met in real life!

The place of our next TA User Community meeting is yet to be decided. As I feel that our Community members should have a say in which event it would be best to meet, there’s likely going to be a poll arranged to vote for the most popular option. Stay tuned and join our INTERACT TA Users FB group that will be launched next week to cast your vote!

Until the next time,


Start of the TA User Community

Today afternoon and next week will see the birth of a brand new activity in INTERACT, the Transnational Access User Community. The idea is to bring together our old, new and potential TA Users to facilitate collaboration and exchange of information and knowledge. So far, we have already had more than 500 scientists visiting the INTERACT stations with the support from Transnational Access, and there will be more than 100 scientists only this summer. This means that the new community is not a small one, and it will have a lot of potential for networking and sharing ideas among the scientists. The community can also serve as a forum for knowledge exchange across scientific domains and disciplines and between the stations and scientists interested in conducting research at them.


The planned activities include several TA Community meetings -both face-to-face and on-line- workshops and webinars, a Facebook group for TA Users and stations, and continuation of the Arctic Research Blogs. Other activities can of course be included -ideas and feedback are warmly welcome from the TA Users!

The launch of the TA User Community takes place today, when we hold our very first webinar to the scientists who will have support from Transnational Access during the next summer and winter field seasons. Actually the webinar has been so popular, that we had to divide it into two parts not to exceed the capacity of our on-line meeting system –it’s fantastic to have such interest from our TA Users for these gatherings, and hopefully they prove to be very useful ones!

Next week, the TA User Community events continue at one of the major science conferences, EGU2017, that takes place in Vienna on 23-28 April. INTERACT will attend the congress with two activities: a stand jointly with ENVRI+ project for the whole week (places 2&3 of the exhibition area), and a TA User Community meeting on 25th April at 10:30-12:00 in room 0.16.

The TA User Community meeting on the 25th April will provide information on INTERACT and Transnational Access in general, present selected stations available for TA, and highlight some of our previous and new TA User Projects.

If you are attending EGU2017, come and meet us by the booth or at the TA User Community meeting. Looking forward to meeting many of you in Vienna!


The Arctic goes central Europe

In this case it went to Prague in Czech Republic for the Arctic Science Summit Week 2017. The whole week was devoted to meetings of different arctic-focused science organizations and initiatives, followed by a four-day scientific congress.

INTERACT was represented by several people at different occasions during the week. Our Coordinator Margareta Johansson gave an excellent presentation about INTERACT at the EU-PolarNet General Assembly that gathered together a full room of people interested in arctic research and projects. My to-do-list during the week included a presentation about Transnational Access at the APECS young scientists’ workshop, and presentations about SAON Committee on Observations and Networks (SAON CON) and GEO Cold Regions Initiative (GEOCRI) -in which I represent INTERACT- at various meetings. I also attended the meeting of the European Polar Board (EPB) as the alternate representative of my home university, University of Oulu.

The highlight of the week took place on the first day of the scientific program, when the Science Coordinator of INTERACT, prof. Terry Callaghan, received the IASC Medal for his outstanding contribution to arctic science and collaboration. The award statement described: “Many scientists realize the value of networking, but it takes a fiery spirit like Prof. Callaghan’s to make it happen”.  I could not agree more with this statement, as I have huge respect to Terry’s scientific career extending over 50 years, and to his fantastic achievements and leadership in arctic research.

  Another highlight for us northerners was the central European weather. When we arrived to Prague it was well above +20 degrees Celcius, the grass was green and leaves were bursting out on the trees. For us it felt like summer! We of course love our arctic environment and climate, but leaving home from temperatures of -14 degrees and snow piles everywhere, it was a pleasant surprise to get a kick-start to summer!

Now I am already back at my office at Oulu, feeling still a bit exhausted after the intensive week in Prague. New travels and INTERACT events are waiting just around the corner during the last week of April, when I’ll attend the EGU2017 in Vienna! More about that next time!


Beginning of a new era

The second phase of INTERACT started in Iceland with our kick-off meeting in the end of January. The participants were plenty and it was wonderful to greet many of the old INTERACT friends and to welcome many new ones, now that the size of the consortium has doubled in comparison to our previous funding period.    wp_20170125_003

Iceland was an ideal place for the meeting due to its location half-way between North-America and Eurasia. Despite the long days at the meeting, we also got to see a bit of this magnificent island during a half-day excursion around the Reykjanes peninsula. We also got a change to learn more about our host institution, the Sudurnes Science and Learning Centre that offers excellent facilities for research in ornithology and marine biology.

wp_20170126_004Another activity that has started with the new funding period is of course transnational access. Our TA call that was open at the end of last year attracted a record number of applications that are now being evaluated by the TA Selection Board. The access decisions are out by the first week of March, and after that we are ready to kick-off the field season of 2017 –hopefully also with many new arctic research blogs.

We also have some brand new activities starting up in March and in April… more about those in the next blog posting!

Until the next time,