Arctic Helsus long page

The Arctic region is undergoing a major climate, environmental, geopolitical, economic and sociocultural transformation. The arctic environments are fragile and will be most heavily affected by the climate change. Changes in the Arctic will not only affect local people, permafrost and ecosystems but also the rest of the world as the Arctic plays a special role in the global climate system.

This framework creates urgent needs to investigate sustainability transformations within the Arctic through co-designed ways of learning and international cooperation. HELSUS provides an interdisciplinary and transformatory take on Arctic research in relation to their natural environments as well as socio-political ones.  In addition to monitoring the arctic and polar circle ecologically, the region will be studied through wellbeing, justice and rights within the Nordic states.

In all of research at the University of Helsinki, climate change, sustainability and the changing environments in the arctic region take centre stage. The Arctic research theme within HELSUS aims to bring these thematics to practice by creating an interdisciplinary platform for the already existing expertise at the University of Helsinki.


The interdiscplinary research institute HELSUS will have a significant focus on the Arctic research theme. The ongoing projects will be determined more specifically after the official establishment of the institute in January 2018, but here are some ongoing projects related to the Arctic within the University of Helsinki:

You can read more about the Arctic Research within the Helsinki of University through this report.

Kilpisjärvi Biological Station

Kilpisjärvi Biological Station was founded in 1964 and belongs to the Faculty of Biological and Environmental sciences. It is situated in the mountain birch forest zone near the 70th degree of northern latitude (69°03'N; 20°50'E) in the northwesterenmost part of Finland. The principal aim of the station is to promote biological and geographical research in the north, and to provide students of biology and geography with information about natural phenomena in northern lands. The station is open to researchers of all nationalities.

Muddusjärvi Research Station

The Muddusjärvi research station belongs to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and is situated in northern Finland in the village Kaamanen, 25 km from the city of Inari. The station operates with ca. 13 hectares of field and ca. 700 ha of forest and administrates also a 1000 ha lake area. The original purpose was to conduct research to support Lappish agriculture and other subarctic research for the Faculty, but since 1996, the usage of the station has been more or less project based and concentrated to the summer time. There is one permanent employer accompanied by the necessary summer help.

Värriö subarctic research station

Värriö subarctic research station was founded in 1967 and belongs to the Institute for Atmospheric Research at the University of Helsinki. It is located in the Värriö Strict Nature Reserve in Eastern Lapland. The station has collected exceptionally long time series of the environment, including e.g. phenology, berry and cone production, birds and insects, which reflect the changes in subarctic forests and fell ecosystems over decades. The current research at the station is dealing with the productivity of the subarctic ecosystems and air pollution and atmospheric processes in the Arctic.

Finland holds the chairmanship of the Arctic Council as well as the Arctic Economic Council in 2017-2019. The University of Helsinki participates in the burning discussion around the Arctic by hosting major scientific conferences and other events targeted also to the general public. Together with the University of Oulu, UHEL organised the UArctic Conference in 2018. The University of the Arctic (UArctic) is a cooperative network of universities, colleges, research institutes and other organizations concerned with education and research in and about the North.             

The Academy of Finland's Arctic Academy Programme (ARKTIKO, 2014-2018) is a programme by the Academy of Finland that aims to study and understand the change factors affecting the development of the Arctic region, the transformation process, and the dynamics of change. Out of 20 extensive international research projects, the University of Helsinki hosts 13 of them. The Programme evolves around four themes:

  • Good-quality life in the north
  • Economic activity and infrastructure in Arctic conditions
  • The northern climate and environment
  • Cross-border Arctic policy collects information on Finland’s Arctic policies and on Arctic research and Arctic business in Finland. The site is maintained by the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland with the support of The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.