International climate innovation summer school hosted for the first time at the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station

This summer the world’s largest climate innovation summer school, the Journey, focused on climate research for five days at the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station. Next year students of the University of Helsinki can also participate in the four-week course journeying through various European countries looking for solutions to tackle climate change.

During the course lasting four weeks, students from across Europe study together in three different countries. In all, 10 corresponding course trips will be organised in Europe during the same summer with 400 students participating. In each destination, students develop ideas for tackling climate change together with experts in the field. 

Students of the University of Helsinki can apply to join the Journey next time around. The application process will most likely open in January 2020. The course is coordinated by the EU-funded EIT Climate-KIC community, which aims at accelerating the transition to a zero-carbon economy. EIT Climate-KIC will cover students' travel and accommodation costs and the majority of meals during the course trip. Students will only incur costs for arriving at the start location of the course and their return home.

This summer the course travelled to northern Europe and studied in Hyytiälä for five days before spending three days at the Otaniemi campus of Aalto University. From Finland the students moved on to Trondheim and from there to Budapest, where course participants, who had started their journey from various locations, gathered together for a joint final seminar to present the ideas they had been working on for the previous month.

At the heart of atmospheric sciences

On the first week of their Journey students explored the impact of climate change on various ecosystems and cities in the midst of Finnish nature.

Located 220 km North-West of Helsinki, 60 km North-East of Tampere, Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station served as the first location of the Northern Path Journey. Here, cutting edge science and long traditions meet in the middle of the boreal forest in the station managed by the University of Helsinki.

International and multidisciplinary research is carried out at the field station on topics ranging from forest sciences and peatland ecology to atmospheric processes at the SMEAR II station.

“The University of Helsinki is hosting the Climate Journey for the very first time and we have brought the Journey students to the heart of atmospheric sciences here in Hyytiälä”, said Laura Riuttanen, Postdoctoral Researcher and Journey 2019 Manager at the University of Helsinki.

“The multidisciplinary measurements conducted here illustrate the complexity of climate sciences, and I hope the visit will demonstrate the importance of collaboration to the students in order to manage issues related to climate change”, she continued.

Changes unnoticed to the naked eye

The participants represented a number of nationalities and backgrounds ranging from economics and business to climate sciences and engineering, all coming together for one goal – to tackle climate change.

During their first days the particpants gained information on the basics of climate change and explored the effect climate change has on various ecosystems. This exploration included field visits to the SMEAR II station, where continuous research is carried out on the interaction between land ecosystems and the atmosphere and to nearby Siikaneva, where scientists are carrying out research on peatland ecosystems.

In Finland, over 70% of the land surface is covered by forest and the country also boasts a staggering number of almost 200,000 lakes. While Hyytiälä is surrounded by picturesque nature and some of the cleanest air in the world, change is still taking place mostly unnoticed to the naked eye.

“You cannot see it, but by the machinery and the data that they’re analysing here for the last 25 years, they can see the difference. This is very valuable information so we know that we don’t need to see it for the changes to happen”, said Miguel, a Climate Journey Participant from Portugal.

A new element to the Journey summer schools this year has been to introduce a stronger focus on the element of systems thinking into the programme. In order to create the fast paced, transformational changes needed to tackle climate change, it is not enough anymore to target single point solutions. Instead, there is a need to focus on systemic and deepgoing transformation and wider collaboration.

More information

World's largest climate innovation summer school

Postdoctoral Researcher Laura Riuttanen, University of Helsinki, +358 50 4154 746, @LRiuttanen