Extremes of Iceland – Preparing for field work in Iceland in February by burning filters at 800 degrees Celsius

Photo: The filtration system ready for laboratory work at the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, Iceland, after field sampling.

It is just amazing how much preparations are needed right before the field work can take place! Iceland will be the first place for us to start this winter-season’s field work. But, we did start a new measurement setup for BC deposition in snow here in Helsinki Kumpula this week, too, at the SMEARIII station, https://www.atm.helsinki.fi/SMEAR/index.php/smear-iii, and it was by a fortunate co-incidence that I started talking with my colleaque Mika Vestenius in the lunch table and thanks to him here we are!

This week, one week before going to field and working on the  impurities on snow and water, preparing for field work means pre-burning sample filters, collecting together all the laboratory stuff needed, and planning more detailed about the sampling and the program during the visit… and there will be a lot of going on during the visit, but about that you can read more later in my separate BLACK-blog’s posting on Iceland visit.

So, this week I have pre-burned filters at 800 degrees Celsius for 4 hours! From that, I took an image to show you what it means in practice. Here you go:

Photo: The filters are preburned in an oven at temperature of 800 degrees Celsius for 4 hours at a time.

In addition, here in Finland many Finns have been occupied with snow and ice although not related to field work preparations. We really have a lot of snow in the capital area of Helsinki this year! And many of us have enjoyed skiing, and clearing snow, too… but now back to sampling…

Why do we need filters in the field work?

Filters are needed after the snow or water sample has been collected and snow melted, the water sample is filtered using a filtration system. The filters  look like this:

Photo: These are the pre-burned filters, one with a sample filtered through and the other, white ones, waiting the action to start in Iceland.

How to prepare to Iceland in February?

My Icelandic host Hanna María Kristjánsdóttir,Director of  the Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, Iceland, has warmly welcomed me and confirmed the stay. Many thanks! Can not wait to meet you all there in Iceland!

In Iceland, the winter weather can be very windy and snowy, depending on the location you are. And it can even happen in Reykjavik, as it was the case on 26 Feb. 2017.

About the new record of 51 cm of snow in Reykjavik on 26 Febr 2017

It really was a fortunate co-incident in 2017, that I was part of an international snow measurement campaign (planned way in advance!) in Reykjavik at the time of this record event. The new February snow depth record measured for Reyjavik was 51 cm. This caused a lot of trouble for the traffic. For us it meant that we had excellent conditions for our international comparison of snow depth and snow water equivalent measurement devices. We were researchers from 10 European countries and USA.

Unexpected wintertime packing list includes a swimming suit for Iceland in February

Nevertheless, after the snowy and windy winter-time field work you will have use for a bathing suit to visit an outdoor hot spring or a swimming pool! An amazing thing to do on a winter day, and possible also in February! It is a must at least once during one winter time snowy field work period!

Photos: Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute.



Season’s Greetings

It’s the final week before Christmas, and things are starting to slow down after a busy autumn. Most of the time in November was spent in handling the TA application and evaluation process, and updating the budget for the INTERACT TA supported field work in 2019.

Moving further in the stages of the TA application and selection process, the INTERACT TA Selection Panel met week ago in Poland. As a result of their intensive work on the evaluations and in -depth discussions on every single one of the nearly 120 TA/RA applications, the TA recommendations have now been made. The recommendations are forwarded to the stations, who will make the final decisions on the projects that will be granted access to conduct research at their premises. The decisions will be announced to the applicants by mid-February, and the successful projects can start preparing to the field work after that.

Now it’s time to start the much-needed holidays, and return back to the office in early January to continue the work in 2019!

Happy Holidays!



Summer season wrap-up

Here in Finland winter is approaching fast, and we already got the first snow last week. It melted away fast, but from the quickly darkening days and dropping temperatures it’s easy to tell the winter is just around the corner. This also means that the summer field season is coming to an end for this year, and most of our TA User Groups from last summer have already submitted their project reports. Also, the TA/RA project descriptions  are now available on-line for you to see.

The season is also wrapping up here at Arctic Research Blogs. For the summer, we had eight different but equally fantastic blogs by our TA Users that I would like to highlight to you now. Take a look at their blogs if you have not done that already!

Yael Teff-Seker took us on a virtual walk and shared her experiences at Hyytiälä Forest Research Station in Finland and ECN CAIRNGORMS in Scotland in blog “Walking and Talking in the Sub-Arctic: assessing cultural ecosystem services in Western Finland and Cairngorms”.

Photo by Yael Teff-Seker from the blog “Walking and Talking in the Sub-Arctic: assessing cultural ecosystem services in Western Finland and Cairngorms”











Outi Meinander’s blog Black & Snowy Stories of Three Islands (BLACK) introduced the followers to the tales and excitement from the fieldwork in Faroes, Iceland and Scotland, on aerosols in snow and ice, and more!

Alice Eldridge, Jonathan Carruthers-Jones, and Roger Norum were blogging from Abisko Scintific Research Station in Sweden, and sharing their adventures in the north in “WILDSENS: Mapping the Wild”.

The blog Rough Ice by Joshua Chambers, Tom Smith and Mark Smith visiting Station Hintereis in Austria, was packed not only with cutting-edge science, but also with super entertaining humor and sense of adventure!

Photo by Team GLARE from the blog “Rough Ice”.


Jonas Lembrechts continued his popular blog Plant Invasions in the Subarctic Mountainsfrom Abisko. More stories, pictures and information on all the adventures of this scientist and talented photographer are also available at www.lembrechtsjonas.wordpress.com.

Kathryn Adamson -one of our TA Ambassadors– and Timothy Lane continued the story of their arctic science in the blog SEDIGAP – Investigating sediment and meltwater dynamics in an area of Arctic permafrost  by including their experiences from the Villum Research Station in Greenland.

Another of our TA Ambassadors, Allan Buras, continued blogging from the previous field season by sharing the stories and excitement of his fieldwork at Arctic Station in Greenland. Allan’s adventures can be followed in the blog Beyondtreeline.

Photo by Allan Buras from the blog “Beyond treeline”.










The blog by Willem van der Bilt “Glacier-climate fingerprints in the subarctic Atlantic” highlighted the team’s TA visit to Rif Field Station to study the sediments of a glacier-fed lake Skeiðsvatn in northwest Iceland to reveal some of the mechanisms behind the climate change in the North Atlantic area.

Thanks to all our fantastic bloggers for taking us with you on the adventure to the Arctic! More blogs will open up again next spring for the field season 2019. This blog by the TA Administration continues until them, the next time with a report from one of the major Arctic events –the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland!



Taking the pulse of natural Arctic climate change using Iceland lake sediments

All field equipment has been assembled, strapped onto pallets and shipped out. In other words, preparations for our upcoming INTERACT TA adventure in northern Iceland are in full swing. High time for a quick introduction of the GLACTIC team and our field plans.

Where and why

It is no secret that the Arctic is one of the most climatically sensitive parts of our planet, heating up twice as fast as the global average. As ice shrivels away and temperatures soar, this dramatic region response to global warming regularly grab headlines. Less well known is the fact that this amplified response is an intrinsinc feature of the region`s climate system, and thus also enhances the impact of natural variations – including cooling phases. There is ample evidence that the Atlantic Arctic was hit by a series of cold spells over the past 10 000 years. The last of these was called “Little Ice Age” for a reason, and severely impacted societies trying to make ends meet in this already harsh region. It was during this time that the Vikings dissapeared from Greenland.

Similar centennial-scale events are bound to happen again. As they modulate the impact of anthropogenic warming, they need to be taken into account in the projections of future climate that underpin policies and adaptation strategies. And that when things get a bit problematic as the fundamental causes of these Arctic North Atlantic climate excursions remain debated. One major challenge complicates things for researchers that try to answer this important question: records of past climate remain sparse and scarce in this remote region – hindering efforts to assess patterns of change in space and time.

GLACTIC will rise to this challenge by providing an important piece to the Arctic North Atlantic`s climate puzzle. For this purpose, we will rely on lake sediment sequences from norhtern Iceland. This area sits near the interface of key components of the regional climate system – the sea-ice margin, the polar front and the meeting of Arctic with Atlantic waters – and therefore sensitively responds to change. The physical, chemical and biological properties of lake sediments capture and record such changes through time, layer by layer over thousands of years. The GLACTIC team wants to unlock this past climate potential by retrieving sediments from the icy depths of lake Skeiðsvatn.

Figure 1. At the frontline of Arctic climate change – northern Iceland and Skeiðsvatn Iceland maps

To extract as much information from our precious lake sediments, as well as approach research questions from multiple angles, GLACTIC brings together climate researchers from different disciplines:

  • Rick Hennekam from the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, an expert in high-resolution sediment core scanning techniques
  • Timothy Lane from John Moores University in Liverpool, who studies landscape development in glacial environments like Greenland and Iceland
  • Kathryn Adamson from Manchester Metropolitan University, who specializes in in the use of sedimentary records as indicators of environmental change
  • Iestyn Barr from Manchester Metropolitan University, who applies remote-sensing techniques to investigate environmental change in mountainous areas
  • Jostein Bakke from the University of Bergen in Norway, who uses glacier-fed lake sediment records to reconstruct past glacier change
  • Willem van der Bilt from the University of Bergen in Norway, who applies new biogeochemical, sedimentological and chronological tools on polar lake sediments
Why will GLACTIC target Skeiðsvatn – what sets this lake apart from others? And how exactly do you extract sediments from the bottom of an Arctic lake? Stay tuned for our next blog! 



Transnational Access call is open!

It’s again that time of the year when the call for INTERACT Transnational and Remote Access opens up. This time, the call is open until 13th October. Same as before, the call for physical TA is open to 43 research infrastructures and the call for RA (remote access) is open to 18 infrastructures, located in Europe, Russia and North-America. The call is for access taking place between March 2019 and April 2020.

The selection of user groups for TA and RA is based on a scientific merit and novelty of the research, but taking into account that priority should be given to user groups who:

  • Have not previously used the installation
  • Are working in countries where no equivalent research infrastructure exists
  • Apply working at more than one location for generating comparative studies
  • To early career scientists (≤ 5 years from a PhD degree) **
  • In their application take into account the specific call priority area, which is introducing new or enhancing the existing activities within networks to INTERACT stations (e.g. ITEX, CALM). A detailed listing of different networks supported and/or participated at the INTERACT Stations can be found from the INTERACT Research and Monitoring Report.

In order to answer possible questions about the ongoing call and about TA and RA in general, we will arrange an on-line webinar on 11th September at 15:00 CEST. You can find call details and a link to join the webinar from here.

Apply INTERACT Transnational Access to conduct research at the coolest places of the North!

Welcome to join the Black and Snowy Stories from Faroe, Iceland and Scotland

Tomorrow I’ll be starting to blog at Arctic Research Blogs, a blog site of INTERACT, an EU H2020 project, along with other scientists conducting research related field work on a wide variety of topics, but all related to the Arctic and northern environment, in season 2018/2019.

Welcome to follow the blog “Black & Snowy Stories of Three Islands (BLACK)” and join the tales and excitements of our field season 2018/2019 in Faroe, Iceland and Scotland, on searching for the “as BLACK as it can get” aerosols in snow and ice, and more!

The url will be: https://arcticresearch.wordpress.com/category/blogs-from-the-field/black-snowy-stories-of-three-islands-black/



One week before the adventure starts.

In one week, we will depart to Greenland. First, we will conduct fieldwork at Disko Island, followed by fieldwork around the Kangerlussuaq area.  We are all very excited to go and we are very busy with sorting and gathering of our gear.

Fully related to present day climate change, word of large wildfires burning in West-Greenland reached worldwide news.  These fires have been burning the last weeks in an area right between the two destinations of our fieldwork trip. I wonder if we could see any of the burned areas along the way.

This reminded me that people from outside of the scientific community sometimes ask me “Is your research-topic not depressing?”..

My first reaction often is to be surprised by the question; why would I be depressed by such a topic so relevant and honorable?

My second thought, however, is less positive. It then strikes me that climate change is a frightening scenario, and a very real one indeed. As a scientist, I am busy with numbers, graphs and papers. Sometimes the occasional cool field trip too. But the reality of a changing planet is not an every-day concern to me in the sense of fear. In a over-simplified one-liner one could state that the scientist only observes and concludes, passing this knowledge along. As a natural scientist I could even say that change is natural, even if it is caused by an intelligent species. But as a human, I should be scared by this change of environment. Not only for the well being of our species, but for our moral obligation towards planet Earth.

The depressing part is that we probably won’t be able to ‘fix things’. We probably can not rid all oceans from plastics, save all rain-forests, preserve all endangered species and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to zero at the same time..  Scientists like us can probably only make efforts to limit the damage, and to learn from humanities mistakes. This is exactly where hope emerges, we can make a difference. And this fuels me.

I hope that my journey to Greenland will inspire me further to fight for the cause. I am afraid that observing the changes will also scare me a bit too…


-Fabian Ercan

The second phase of INTERACT


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,



Get ready for Season 3!

The preparations for approaching summer field season are speeding up, and we are soon ready to launch Season 3 at the Arctic Research Blogs. This summer will see a record number of research groups visiting the INTERACT sites with support from Transnational Access, as altogether 56 groups from 14 countries are currently preparing to their field work. The groups will be conducting research at 18 stations, including the sites in Greenland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Russian Federation, and the Faroe Islands. In addition, two groups will be conducting field work at two of the Canadian sites in INTERACT; one in Whapmagoostui-Kuujjuarapik supported by CEN, and one in Kluane Lake supported by AINA.

Nine new blogs are starting up here at the Arctic Research blogs during the spring and summer from places like Khibiny, Finse, Tarfala, Abisko, Kevo and Zackenberg. Some for a shorter and some for a longer period of time, depending on the extent of the field work, but all equally exciting and adventurous! The blogs will highlight the experiences of the researches in the often challenging field work conditions. And of course showcase some amazing photos from this extremely beautiful part of the world –the Arctic.

Photo by Hanna Frykman.
Photo by Hanna Frykman.

We will introduce the new bloggers here at the Behind the Scenes blog, and they will also be featured on the About the INTERACT bloggers section. During the next couple weeks we will also make updates on the appearance of the Arctic Research blogs and revamp our site a little bit to celebrate the new season premier. Hopefully you like the changes once they become visible in April!

Stay tuned to meet the new bloggers, and join the adventure for summer 2014 at Arctic Research Blogs!


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