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,

Hannele

The second phase of INTERACT

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It has been ages since I wrote here last time, but now I am glad to say that we are back: the second phase of INTERACT received funding from EU H2020 and we are back at many levels and with several different activities. More about those later on.

In this post, I wanted to highlight that we have now again opened for the super-popular Transnational Access call. The call is open until 18th December, and it is for projects taking place between March 2017 and April 2018, so it includes both summer season and the winter season after that. This time, 43 terrestrial research stations located in the arctic, northern alpine and forest areas in Europe, Russia and North-America offer Transnational Access. The sites represent a variety of glacier, mountain, tundra, boreal forest, peatland and freshwater ecosystems, providing opportunities for researchers from natural sciences to human dimension.

The access available to the stations in the call includes two modalities -physical access and remote access.The traditional physical Transnational Access means, that the scientists can go and conduct their study at the station free of charge, including the use of station facilities, and travel and logistic costs related to the study. What a fantastic opportunity! The Remote Access means that the researcher does not visit the station by himself, but instead the station staff helps in conducting the study according to the research plan. In the current call, it’s possible to apply both physical and remote access, and some stations offer both.

We hope for many good and scientifically high-quality applications for access from scientists around the world. To find out more about the call visit the TA Call webpages, learn more about the station facilities and register to the on-line application system.

Seize the opportunity and apply for INTERACT Transnational Access to conduct studies at the coolest places on the Earth!

More next time,

Hannele

Tallenna

Positive progress

Despite of the dark and gloomy weather here at Oulu (as always this time of the year), the past weeks have been very positive with several nice occasions.

Firstly, in mid-October we travelled to the Arctic Circle assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland. There, our joint effort of the past year-and-a-half, a highly illustrated popular science book INTERACT Stories of Arctic Science, was published and 300 copies of the book were distributed to the participants of the assembly. What a great event, and I am so happy and proud of the book which illustrates the fantastic work conducted by the scientists with support from INTERACT Transnational Access during the past years!

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Secondly, last week we went to Poland to attend the Annual Consortium Meeting. The event was held at the most beautiful place at Jablonna Palace, a carefully renovated building from the 18th century, which nowadays serves as a congress centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The surrounding park was just as astonishing as the palace itself, with big majestic trees in variety of autumn colors. It was the most inspiring place to have a meeting, and we left invigorated and eager to continue working for the future of INTERACT.

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The rest of the year looks rather busy. We’ll start preparing a new application to Horizon2020, and in addition continue collaboration in organizing some major science events that will take place next year –the first one will be the Fulbright Arctic Symposium on February 11th 2016 here at Oulu. But more about those later on!

Until the next time!
-Hannele

Endless (summer) rain

This summer it has not felt bad to sit in the office behind the computer and work. More so, I have felt sympathy towards the people who are supposed to enjoy their summer holidays because that has been really difficult this “summer”. First of all, because it has been so cold. Secondly, because it has been so rainy that it makes being outdoors if not impossible, at least very unpleasant. And did I mention miserable already?

To fully understand this desperation, one must know something about the relationship between the Finnish people and summer. We endure the long, dark, cold winter by anticipating the summer. Short but light and (supposedly) warm summer. The summer for Finnish people is usually packed with high expectations and dreams of outdoor barbecues, swimming in the lake after sauna, enjoying the midnight sun, going to concerts and all kind of peculiar *summer events that only exist in Finland. And then strikes the reality… +10 degrees, pouring rain, cold wind…finding your vision about the perfect summer holiday completely shattered. Cannot get much more depressing than that.

Except this summer I decided to change my attitude. I ditched the dreaming of the endless summer early on, and instead chose a different thought pattern. Not worrying about the sun burns, getting new summer clothes, or using notable amounts of money to entrance fees to concerts and outdoor summer events. Instead, I’ve invested in a new umbrella and enjoyed quiet walks under it (hardly anyone else is outside this weather), visiting the library and reading books evening after evening, establishing an at-home yoga studio and making plans to visit museums and galleries. This shift of attitude has worked quite well until now but let’s see what happens when my summer holiday starts next week and my new strategy is put into real test.

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View from my office window in summer 2012. Looks exactly the same now -if not rainier!

Luckily, a work trip to Italy provided a possibility to enjoy some summer weather conditions.

Luckily, a work trip to Italy provided a possibility to enjoy some summer weather conditions.

In the work front, the past months have been much sunnier than the weather here. Work trips to meetings and conferences have taken me to Japan (sunny), Italy (very sunny) and Denmark (not so sunny). While at the office, much of my time has been devoted on editing of a popular science book highlighting the research conducted with support from INTERACT Transnational Access. It’s all very exciting and I cannot wait the book launch later this year. But more about that and the end result of my anti-sun/pro-rain campaign next time!

-Hannele

*Some examples of these special summer events include Wife Carrying World Championships, Swamp Soccer World Championships, Air Guitar World Championships, and the Evening of Pessimism.

It was a great journey …

The short, dark days have arrived here to Oulu now that we are approaching the winter solstice. To even emphasize the general gloominess, we have no snow at the moment, and White Christmas still feels very much like a faraway dream. Therefore, last week’s trip to Hvalsø in Denmark to the INTERACT Final Consortium Meeting was a very welcome and cheering up one. We got to meet again all the wonderful people –friends- that we have made during the past four years of the project, and we even got so enjoy a glimpse of sunlight, as the photos below are proving!

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Despite of the name “Final Consortium Meeting”, the gathering did not mark an end to our collaboration, but rather a wrap up of our current funding period of 2011-2014 and an acknowledgement of the things we have achieved together so far. It has been a great journey and I’ll cherish the experiences and memories from the past four years for the years to come.

The INTERACT network and the strong collaboration between the research stations in it will definitely continue to flourish and grow, and hopefully we will also get good news regarding our application to Horizon 2020 to develop transnational access further, along with many other activities and new innovations.

During the past weeks, we have been warmly surprised by the numerous e-mails from researchers all over the Europe, thanking for the support provided by INTERACT Transnational Access, and hoping for the activity to continue soon in the future. Many thanks for your encouragement and positive feedback, it means a lot to us!

All the best for the approaching Christmas time to all of you, and many thanks for the past year – it has been wonderful! Until the next time! -Hannele

Roundtrip to Kilpisjärvi

Last weekend we traveled to Kilpisjärvi Biological Station in Finnish Lapland to attend the station’s 50-years anniversary symposium. The symposium consisted of speeches and presentations highlighting the history and current activities of the station. The station and its excellent facilities have played a crucial role for many studies. The Kilpisjärvi Biological Station is also a highly valued member of the INTERACT station network, and one of the most popular stations for Transnational Access. It is clear that the station’s scientific impact continues to increase in the future. Many congratulations to Kilpisjärvi Station 50 years!
On Saturday morning before the symposium we also had a possibility for a short hike towards the Saana fjell, along a nature path starting nearby the station. The area around the station is extremely beautiful, Lake Kilpisjärvi surrounding it from one side and Malla and Saana fjells from the other, as the following photos are hopefully able to demonstrate.The first photo pictures Malla fjell, taken by Lake Kilpisjärvi, and the next two are taken from the nature path towards Lake Kilpisjärvi and Malla fjell.

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Back at the offices, the week has gone by mostly by wrapping up the past summer field season. Many of the project reports have now been returned, and my next job will be updating those to the access database and compiling the numbers for our final consortium meeting.

Until the next time!
-Hannele

Venetians and floating saunas

Hello again! Last week we finalized our application to Horizon 2020 to continue and build on the work conducted during the current phase of INTERACT with support from EU FP7. Now the feeling is somewhat empty, like it very often is after a long and intensive work period –we started to prepare for the application already last year! At the same time, the feeling is rewarding, because I felt we managed to make an excellent plan and innovations for the years to come.
The previous weekend marked a farewell to the summer in the form of so-called “Venetians”. Here in Finland (especially on the west coast), the Venetians tradition takes place on the last weekend of August, when it’s time to say goodbye to the summer-long cabin and boating season and welcome the autumn and dark nights by candles, lanters and fireworks. The weather was excellent for the whole weekend -sunny, clear and crisp- so we went canoeing on the river Oulu with a friend of mine. Amazing sceneries, and from a totally different viewpoint compared to the regular views during my runs along the riverside. After getting our arms sore by canoeing, we went to unwind and relax to the fabulous innovation which started up this summer –a floating sauna that has been warming up daily by the Tuira beach, run by volunteers sharing a love for the Finnish sauna culture. This will be the second last week of operation for this “Summer’s Sauna”, but hopefully we get to enjoy this fantastic experience again next summer. You can learn more about the place from a recent article in the local newspaper (unfortunately in Finnish only). Remember the place if you visit Oulu next summer, it’s a must!

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Summer’s Sauna by the Tuira beach in Oulu.

This week has passed by updating the project descriptions on the website and preparing a presentation about reindeer reproductive physiology to the ESDAR conference held in Helsinki next week. In addition, I have been writing several short articles and news items about INTERACT to newsletters and websites: so much is happening this time of the year that it feels really easy and fun to write, and writing is definitely something I enjoy very much!

Until the next time!
-Hannele