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!



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!

Here’s why and how we plan to find BLACK particles

Snow that appears white-to-eye can actually contain tiny black particles in amounts that can be important to climate change. This we have learned from our work on aerosols in snow and ice.  We have found that small  amounts of such particles can induce snow and ice melt, but we have also shown that very large amounts can prevent snow and ice from melting.

This is how it works in smaller amounts: When light-absorbing aerosols, including soot (black carbon, BC), ash, wind-blown dust, and the so called brown-carbon fraction of organic carbon (OC), deposit on snow and ice, they reduce surface reflectivity (albedo) and induce melt of darker surface, which again lowers the albedo and increases melt via a feedback mechanism.  Albedo feedback is one of the mechanisms causing Arctic amplification (AA). Meaning stronger climate change in the polar regions. Pithan and Mauritsen (2014) say in their Nature paper that surface albedo feedback is the second main contributor to AA, right after increased downwelling longwave radiation.

Our BLACK project (2018-2019) focuses on Arctic climate change and investigates BC, OC and dust in the cryosphere and natural water, and drinking water of the three EU H2020 INTERACT stations visited. The collected snow, ice and water samples will be filtered during the visits and we will analyze the filters in the laboratory at my home institute FMI, Finland.

BLACK team will be conducting fieldwork on and around the stations of Faroe Islands Nature Investigation FINI, Iceland’s Sudurnes Science and Learning Center, and UK Environmental Change Network’s ECN Cairngorms, Scotland, in season 2018-2019. ‘Three islands’ thus refers to Streymoy (Strømø) of the Faroes, Iceland, and Great Britain.

BLACK aims at filling geographical gaps in the current BC data collection concerning cold climate regions at high altitudes and high Arctic latitudes, and fulfilling some of the Finland’s chairmanship program goals for the Arctic Council 2017-2019.  BLACK contributes also to an ongoing Academy of Finland NABCEA–consortium project of “Novel Assessment of Black Carbon in the Eurasian Arctic, From Historical Concentrations and Sources to Future Climate Impacts (2016 – 2020)” (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/iasoa/node/206).

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,



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/



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!


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,



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!


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