In physical geography:
In human & urban geography and spatial planning:
In Aquatic Community Ecology Group we study community ecology, biogeography and macroecology and use unicellular organisms in aquatic ecosystems as model system to test general ecological theories. Our studies are also useful for biodiversity conservation in freshwaters and for biological monitoring. We investigate freshwater biodiversity across a broad range of scales from local to global study extents. In addition to freshwater ecosystems, we also examine spatial patterns in diatom biodiversity along the Baltic Sea coastal areas.
Our major research topics include:
Read more from our ACEG blog.
The BioGeoClimate Modelling Lab is focused on the spatial and temporal modelling of Earth systems, particularly patterns and processes concerning biogeography, geomorphology, and climatology, and their interactions. Modern GIS and remote sensing methods, such as remotely piloted aircraft systems, are used to study the drivers and mechanisms governing ecosystems and landscapes. Besides theoretical and methodological interests in understanding and predicting species distributions, earth surface processes, and biosphere-atmosphere interactions, BioGeoClimate Modelling Lab develops models for different applied purposes in physical geography. The lab aims to assess the potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity, ground surface conditions, and vegetation and soil dynamics. To explore these topics, the lab is leading observational and experimental studies, statistical analyses of empirical data and mathematical simulations, including bioclimate modelling and data mining. The main study area is in the Scandinavian Mountains, a high-latitude landscape in northernmost Finland and Norway. The BioGeoClimate Modelling Lab also works at larger areas – in Finland, Arctic, Europe, and globally – in order to understand the structure and functioning of ecosystems and landscapes at multiple scales.
Read more from the research group pages: BioGeoClimate Modelling Lab
More information also from Miska Luoto, Professor in Physical Geography
The Digital Geography Lab uses novel big (and open) data sources and cutting-edge analyses to support sustainable spatial planning and decision making. The group takes advantage of data sources such as social media data, mobile phone call detail records or public transport timetables together with remotely sensed and register data to carry out advanced spatial analyses of accessibility and mobility patterns, conservation opportunities and threats, or illegal wildlife trade trafficking. The Digital Geography group aims to be a forerunner in open science practices, sharing research-based tools and research data with different actors in the society. Research is conducted at various spatial scales in Finland, Estonia, South Africa, Madagascar and Uruguay, extending to continental and global scales.
What is happening in our cities today – and tomorrow? Are urban inequalities growing? What makes cities successful? The research group for the dynamics of urban change and segregation focuses on these issues from geographical and multidisciplinary perspectives. Our main projects include research on urban segregation, housing, education and transnational migration in collaboration with European and Finnish researcher network.
More information from Assistant Professor Venla Bernelius.
This research group studies land use and land cover changes taking place in sub-Saharan Africa due to agricultural expansion. More croplands are cleared for food security on the cost of natural vegetation. The research group combining geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and sustainability science focuses on monitoring and analyzing the land change. Research combines geospatial land cover data with measurements of microclimate, gas exchange, water, soil, vegetation biomass and characteristics, and socio-economic surveys. The objective is to study in an integrative way the consequences of land change to climate, water resources, carbon sequestration, biodiversity, food security and livelihoods of people. Moreover, the strategies to adapt to land change and climate change are developed.
Taita Taveta County in Kenya is the key research area, but studies are conducted both in East and West Africa. Group collaborates with Kenyan and international research organizations in Kenya, while the main partners in Europe are York University and Lund University. Within University of Helsinki, the main collaboration partners are Faculty of Biosciences and Environment, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, and Finnish Museum of Natural History. Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki is a central research infrastructure.
The current and past projects related to land change studies and geoinformatics research and teaching in Africa include:
More information: Petri Pellikka, Professor in Geoinformatics
Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki in Kenya
The research group Spatial Policy, Politics and Planning are interested in the political and governmental practices of producing, maintaining and transforming geographical space. Our starting point is that spatial planning practices are never “neutral” or technical expressions of rationality. Under several research themes particular attention is paid to the links between expert knowledge production, the constitution of economic and urban forms, and the spatial governance of political communities in/through spatial planning. Our aim is to produce high quality research with both academic and applied impact.
Research group website: Spatial Policy, Politics and Planning
The research focus of the station has been land cover and land use change and the impacts on climate, water resources, biodiversity and livelihoods. The landscape, environment and socio-economic characteristics of the Taita Hills, and Taita Taveta County in general, provides unique research questions to students and scientists in collaboration with local community, research institutes and universities.
The research carried out by the University of Helsinki started already in 1989 by a field excursion, and restarted again in 2003 with Professor Petri Pellikka returning to Taita Hills with his students. Since then, students and scientists ranging from geography and biology to medicine have used the station premises for their field work producing over 50 PhD, MSc and BSc theses.
Main cooperation partners in Kenya have been University of Nairobi, Taita Taveta University, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, National Museums of Kenya, World Agroforestry Centre and Kenya Forest Service. Substantial research funding has been received from the Academy of Finland and development cooperation funding from Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The most valuable asset of the station is the geospatial database about land cover and its changes, soil, topography, climate and infrastructure. In addition, the station has variety of field plots describing land cover and vegetation characteristics. Remote sensing data of the station includes multitemporal aerial photography and satellite imagery, airborne laser scanner data and airborne hyperspectral remote sensing data.
The station can host 20 quests at the time providing logistics, accommodation, internet, water, electricity and safety. The staff includes besides manager, catering chef and guards also research assistants and drivers. Laboratory and teaching premises are modest, and therefore the station is looking forward to expand its facilities. During the past years, more than 1200 research overnights take place at the station.
The advisory board of the station chaired by Professor Jouko Rikkinen nominated by the rector of the University of Helsinki consists of representative from every faculty of the university. Director Petri Pellikka, station coordinator Dr. Tino Johansson and the staff of the station welcomes students and scientists to the Taita Research Station.
Director Petri Pellikka
Mari Vaattovaara has lead and been involved in several national and international research projects, which include:
Mari is also founder of Urban Academy.