Research Training



Course in arctic and alpine ecology at Joatkanjávri field base, and on Sievju (Seiland), Alta, Finnmark, Norway 8.–20.5.2015; with lectures in Turku 4.–6.3.2015

Teacher: Lauri Oksanen (lauoks[at]

Lecture language: English; field language to be adjusted to the situation

Credit points: 5 for course + exam, 10 if also course essay is delivered

Who can attend: the course is multidisciplinary but requires familiarity with basic ecological concepts. The course suits to any level of studies, from bachelor to PhD

Costs: 250 € + getting to and from Hetta (centre of Enontekiö) + purchasing own food

The scope: On the lectures start with, you will first be taught both the basics of Fennoscandian mountain and tundra geology, about snow and ice and their role for plant an animal life, and the basics of classical Nordic arctic-alpine ecology: the difference between arctic and alpine tundra, the eco-physiological factors creating the timberline, distribution of mountain vegetation along large scale and small scale environmental gradients, common mountain/tundra animals and their habitat and food use in different seasons and their interactions. Here we include our last surviving big arctic herbivore, the reindeer, and its herding practices. Then you will get exposed to different ideas concerning the dynamics of arctic-alpine food chains and the natural impacts of herbivores on the vegetation, on the ways how the Sámi culture evolved in interaction with the terrestrial and marine resources and on the current state and problems of the Sámi reindeer husbandry.

Selection: We will have place for 21 students, which may be less than there are interested students. Therefore, those who are interested are encouraged to contact me ( as quickly as possible and also give some motivation why they are interested in this course. Deadline is 31.12.2014. I will announce the results of the selection process by 15.1.2015.

What we will do and why: The course will combine theory with fieldwork. As it is inconvenient to travel to Finnmark in order to sit in classroom, we will have lectures and species demonstration in Turku 4–6.3.2015, but short lectures relating to the theme of the day will be held in Alta, too.

The conditions are late winter – very early spring. We will thus have much focus on snow as an ecological factor – how its quality and distribution in terrain varies between forest, lowland tundra and alpine habitats and what are the impacts on plants and animals. We will use the fact that the course is held at the shift between Raven Moon (Gárnjamánu) and Calf Moon (Miessemánu) in accordance to the Sámi calendar, i.e. when stress and the consequent death period culminates to give way to spring and new life. The stress experienced by plants will be studied experimentally, using vegetation blocks that are transferred from snow-rich habitats to bare blown ridges. Count on lots of snow shovelling, in order to measure its characteristics, its impacts on ground temperatures and to find out what a reindeer or small mammal can find beneath it and how they have impacted the vegetation. In this context we will use natural experiments on Iešjávri’s islands, which cannot be accessed by reindeer during migrations. 

We will also study the impact of reindeer on near timberline forests by documenting the structure of these forests in areas with and without summer grazing reindeer. For that purpose, we will have an excursion to the summer ranges of reindeer on the island of Sievju / Seiland, where we can also get acquainted with alpine nature, including a major ice cap, and with marine birds. Depending on weather, also the first plants might flower along the shores.

The area also provides interesting geological contrasts: the Precambrian plateau with its glacier sculptured topography – quite similar to Finland but easier to perceive on the treeless tundra – the folds of the Scandinavian mountain chain at Joatka, the Alta River Canyon and Younger Dryas moraines corresponding to Salpausselkä, the intrusions of magmatic rocks on Sievju, where we also can see an ice cap type glacier in action.

Alta is also the cradle of the Sámi population which according to currently most credible theory emerged in the end of the Ice Age, when a maritime tribe, travelling northwards along the Norwegian coast, met and merged with a tribe of inland hunters, mowing westwards across the still dry mouth of the White Sea and across Kola Peninsula. The further development is nicely documented in Alta museum and in the rock carvings at Jiebmeluokta, which you will get a day to study.  

What is expected: After the lectures, you should read introductory papers, which you will get electronically. On the course, we will move a lot, so a bit physical training will not hurt. I do not expect high levels of skiing skills but if you have no experience of downhill skiing with free heels, one day on a downhill slope with Telemark skis is highly recommended. The terrain around Joatka is quite flat but the slope from the low tundra to the high plateau of the mountain chain (the red pist of Levi, and Seiland) is much rougher. We must be move together so our pace is the pace of the slowest.

You should be equipped and mentally prepared for moving around during the spring “rozput”, when conditions can be rough. It can still get cold (-10oC is commonplace) but it can also rain or be warm (up to +15oC. Skis and poles will be fixed to those who have not own appropriate equipment but you should have suitable footwear (fitting to NNN track fittings or to 75 mm Nordic Norm fittings). We will discuss this during the lecture days. Sleeping bag and field mattress are needed for the trip to Seiland, where we will sleep in lávvu (Sámi tepee).

Last but not least: when you have confirmed your participation in January, you will be expected to be committed to participate and do at least the exam. If there is shortage of place, students committed to take the 10 p alternative and write a course essay will have priority.

How to get there: You can take night train from Turku or Helsinki to Rovaniemi, where you can take the Eskelinen bus to Enontekiö/Hetta 8.5 or take the morning bus to Rovaniemi from Tromsø and change in Muonio. In Hetta the bus changes from route bus to charter bus and takes you all the way to Joatka´s parking place, from where you have a short (3 km) ski trip to Joatka. All equipment will be transported by snowmobile. The return, 20.5.2015 is the same in reverse: you will be picked by the bus in morning from the parking lot and in Hetta, the bus changes from charter bus to route bus and takes you to Rovaniemi where you will catch the night train to Turku or Helsinki, where you will be on the morning 21.5. 

Paying the fee: The course fee of 250 € is to be paid to the account of Biology Department, Turku University (details later). The fee will cover accommodation and all other direct expenses (charter bus Hetta-Joatka-Hetta, excursion, museum fees, transport of equipment), except for food. The due date will be 31.01.2015. The fee is only refundable for cancellations depending on illness or other force majeure situations. 

     Welcome to the tundra – buris boahttan duottari!

                                            Lauri Oksanen


Watching spring migration.jpg Ascending Saddugaisa.jpg Getting a feeling of snow.jpg
​Watching spring migration ​Ascending Sássugáisa, Seiland ​Getting a feeling of snow


Other Relevant Courses

Graduate Course by NCoE NORD-STAR: Tools and Techniques in Climate Change Studies
The course focuses on the use of GIS tools for climate change adaptation related to energy transition, land use changes, and area planning for a more hazard exposed society. More specifically, the course will be concentrating on four sub-themes:
1. Transition to new energy sources: wind mills and solar cell panels
  • The use of GIS for site selection for new on-shore wind mill locations
  • Assessing areas suitable for solar cells. Using GIS to estimate incoming solar energy (kWh) and duration (hours) of direct and indirect solar radiation

2. Exposure to flooding and other climate change related hazards

  • The use of GIS to identify elements at risk

3. Exposure and social vulnerability

  • Factor analysis and the construction of social vulnerability indices
  • Mapping of exposure (elements at risk) and social vulnerability

4. Communicating Risk Using Maps

  • Cartographic communication and geographic visualization
  • How to design communicative maps
  • How to use web-based geo-visualization tools to promote participation from stakeholders

When and where: 15th-19th June 2015 at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway.

Teachers: Prof. Stephen R.J. Sheppard from the University of British Columbia and Prof. Jan Ketil Rød from NTNU.

More detailed information on the NORD-STAR website (

For more information and applications, please contact: Associate Professor at NTNU Jan Ketil Rød (jan.rod[at]


International Summer School 5-17 July 2015, Tomsk-Altai, Russia

The Third International Summer School for Students and Young Scientists will take place in Tomsk and at the Aktru Reserach Station of the National Research Tomsk State University. The Summer School provides an opportunity to become acquainted for example with a great variety of landscapes, palaogeographical relics, geological structures, and local biodiversity and ecosystems.


    30 April 2015 Notification of acceptance of abstract for oral or poster presentation.
    31 May 2015 Last day for submission of applications.

Learn more about the course and how to register from here: Welcome_to_the_third_Summer_School_for_Students_and_Young_Scientists__3__2015_01.pdf
Read more about Aktru Research Station


IIASA (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis) Young scientists summer program

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Nordplus higher education

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Nord-star courses:

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UiT The Arctic University of Norway courses:

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Past NCoE TUNDRA Courses

MAAN7844 Northern nature and livelihoods at Kevo Research Station and surroundings in Eastern Lapland, 16.–22.5.2015
The course will give a comprehensive picture of the natural and human aspects and their interaction in Lapland. It includes field excursions in Northern Finnish Lapland with group-specific tasks for students. We will cover topics such as biotic and abiotic heterogeneity in Lapland, resource extraction, tourism, change in land use and traditional livelihoods, such as reindeer herding and Sámi culture. A final seminar consisting of student presentations according to their tasks will be the “final exam” for the course.
Teachers responsible: Sonja Kivinen (soirki[at] and Tim Horstkotte (tim.horstkotte[at]
Teacher: Mika Orjala (mimaor[at]
Credit points: 5 ECTS
Preliminary course dates: 16th May (Saturday) – 22nd May (Friday)
Costs: Getting to and from Rovaniemi railway station + accommodation and dining costs (approx. 65 €) in Kevo Research Station
Location: Kevo Research Station and surroundings in Eastern Lapland

No. of participants: max. 15 students; primarily for geography majors and NCoEs TUNDRA, NORDSTAR, and NORMER researchers. In case there will be more than 15 persons interested in the course, students will be selected on the basis of credit points and their personal interest on course topics.

Registeration: if you are a geography student OR by e-mail to Sonja or Tim if you are a member of an NCoE.

Preliminary program:
Note: Specific arrangement is not yet decided; it is also weather dependent
April: 1st meeting with students, short introduction & assignment of topics for introductory seminar (student presentations)
Beginning of May: Preliminary seminar
16th of May: leaving Turku by night train (self-organized)
17th of May (Sunday): Arrival at Rovaniemi, visiting Lokka Reservoir in Lappi herding district,  SIIDA-museum in Inari and other stops along the route, arrival at Kevo Station
18th of May (Monday): Teno River – Geography of Borders in a Fennoscandian context; tourism, natural resource extraction (e.g.  fishing and salmon ecology in climate change)
19th of May (Tuesday): Mining in Sápmi: visit a site of potential mineral / diamond extraction close to a nature reserve and “impact assessment”, visiting part of Kevo Canyon
20th of May (Wednesday): Jiesnnalvárri: landscape heterogeneity and gradients in in biotic and abiotic conditions
21st of May (Thursday): Reindeer husbandry and reindeer research: visit to Kaamanen Research Station  &  return to Rovaniemi / Turku by night train (self-organized)
22nd of May: early arrival in Turku
1st week of June: Final seminar, students reporting on group projects



Intensive course in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) aimed for TUNDRA, NorMER, and NORD-STAR students/researchers

Date: 16–18 December 2014

Place: University of Turku, Department of Geography and Geology, Turku, Finland

Nordic Centre of Excellence TUNDRA will organise a three-day intensive course on the use of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) on various research applications relevant to climate change adaptation. The course will be hosted at the Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku on 16–18 December 2014 (Tuesday–Thursday).
Admission: space priority is given to students involved with any of the three Nordic Centres of Excellence TUNDRA, NorMER and NORD-STAR. The maximum number of attendants is based upon availability of computing facilities.

Prerequisites: The GIS course will be suitable fo anyone interested in the method, as we offer training at three levels of expertise: no former experience, competent user, and specialist (with potentially own data for analyses).

Exam information: Students are graded on their participation in the GIS course. Scores are given as passed/failed.

Participation fee: The participation is free for individuals associated with the three NCoEs. Participants are expected to enquire travel and accommodation expenses from their home NCoEs. However, the exact arrangements can be negotiated case-by-case.
Should you have any questions, remarks, wishes etc. regarding the course, feel free to contact NCoE TUNDRA project coordinator Mika Orjala (mimaor[at]

The due date for registration is 1st December 2014. Send your enrollment by email to Mika Orjala (mimaor[at]
Univ. of Turku: Field Course in Subarctic Ecology
Place: Kevo Subarctic Research Institute, University of Turku, Utsjoki, northernmost Finland.
Teachers: Ari-Pekka Huhta, Tero Klemola, Seppo Koponen, Pekka Niemelä, Kai Ruohomäki, Otso Suominen.
Funding will be applied by teachers for travel costs of participating students. For students of Univ. of Turku, accommodation and meals will be approximately 100 €.
Registration (preliminary) via e-mail to Kai Ruohomäki ( by 14.2.2014. Final and binding registration in early May when specifics of costs are solved.
Description: The course deals with subarctic ecology, especially in mountain birch ecosystem. There are long traditions in this field in University of Turku.
The following focal topics are acquainted with:
- Arthropod fauna of mountain birch and mountain birch ecosystem
- Flora, birds and mammals of mountain birch forests and treeless tops of fells
- Population dynamics and outbreaks of geometrids with consequent forest damage
- Importance of reindeer in subarctic ecosystems
- Field trip to run the rule over flora and communities of the coastal Arctic Ocean at Varange Fjord and bird cliffs at Ekkeroya, Northern Norway.
The course includes also some lectures and smallish laboratory exercises. It is in Finnish if none English speaking students are involved.

“Issues in Diversity”, a Graduate course in community ecology, University of Oulu, 16h/2 units

Teacher: Professor Susan Harrison, University of California, Davis, USA, Timing: 3.9.–7.9.2012

Outline of the course: 1. Introduction to measuring and partitioning diversity, 2. Diversity and productivity at multiple scales, 3. Latitude and diversity, 4. Placing a value on diversity.


KAAMOS symposium, University of Oulu. Timing: 11.12.–12.12.2012

Short talks given by PhD students and post-docs, a poster session, guest speakers and a special NCoE TUNDRA session.


NORCAM-TUNDRA-NORD-STAR cooperation: NORCAM PhD course: Community Adaptation to Climate Change in the North, 7.5 ECTS credits, Umeå, Sweden. Timing: 10-14 June 2013

Outline of the course: 1. Concepts and theories, 2. Cases, 3. Presentation of student case studies, 4. Methods and interdisciplinary research, 5. Can community adaptation be discussed and compared? To what extent is community level adaptation possible, and can cases in different countries be compared?

The Nordic Network for Climate Change, Adaptation, and Multilevel Governance (NORCAM) is a Nordic Council/Nordforsk-funded network including Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Oslo, Norway; Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden; University of Lapland, Finland; and Stefansson Arctic Institute, Akureyri, Iceland. The group also has members and affiliations at the University of Colorado at Boulder, US; University of Akureyri, Iceland; and University of Waterloo, Canada.

NorMER – NORD-STAR – TUNDRA cooperation: NCoE Researcher Training Course: “Effect Studies and Adaptation to Climate Change” Oslo, Norway 7.511.5.2012.

Outline of the course: 1. Climate change processes: Physical and Chemical, 2. Climate change impacts on Nordic marine ecosystems, 3. Climate change impacts on terrestrial ecosystems in the Nordic region, 4. Climate change policy and action, 5. Student contributed lectures.


20014 Turun yliopisto, Finland
Tel. +358 29 450 5000

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