The atmosphere and climate change

Climate change is one of the most topical scientific problems of the beginning of the current millennium. Finland is a major player in atmospheric science, and in recent years it has achieved a leading European position in the field. Now is the time to respond to the multi-national challenges. These challenges include climate change and its consequences as well as climatic and environmental technology development. The University of Helsinki has also selected climatic and environmental research as one of the focus areas for 2010–2012. In the research within the Faculty of Science, climate change -related problems are covered widely, ranging from quantum phenomena and aerosol dynamics to biogeochemical cycles (atmosphere – hydrosphere – biosphere interactions).

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The Earth's climate is determined by intricately interrelated processes, feedback loops and teleconnections. Biota and its geophysical and geochemical environment have evolved together, which has led to a number of complex interactions and feedbacks. Climate change research is linked to several fields of science such as chemistry, physics, meteorology, biology, forestry, agricultural sciences, and geosciences.

Atmospheric research requires a process level understanding starting from quantum chemistry. This understanding is applied to global models. Research methodologies include both experimental and theoretical research. Development and deployment of new data analysis methods is required to fully utilize the continuous measurements done at the SMEAR stations, and to compare the measurement results with model results. Ecosystem-atmosphere interactions are investigated by means of micrometeorology. The ongoing research in radar meteorology is related to the causes of clear air echoes and their utilization in meteorological research, especially in mesometeorology, cloud physical phenomena, and environmental applications. Utilization and development of remote sensing methods is essential to the generalization of the results to the global level. The polar regions have a special role in regulating the Earth's climate. Snow and ice dynamics are studied within the Faculty of Science. Modeling of these phenomena supports climate research. Furthermore, solutions to restrain climate change are also studied in the Faculty of Science.

Faculty is also actively studying the ancient climate and its development regionally and globally. The key methods are ancient climate reconstructions based on large-scale fossil materials and other geological indicators, and climate models adapted to the ancient conditions.

he research in these areas involves a national Centre of Excellence "Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Meteorology of Atmospheric Composition and Climate Change", two professors hired by the "Distinguished Professor Programme (FiDiPro)" program, as well as one Academy Professor. Furthermore, the field has been granted e.g. the European Research Council ERC "Advanced Investigator Grant" funding. The Faculty is actively promoting the pan-European EINAR Research Centre (Institute for Research Atmospheric and Earth System Science) to be established at the Kumpula Campus.