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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
Another 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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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