University of Helsinki builds an air quality measuring station in Beijing

The University of Helsinki and the Beijing University of Chemical Technology, BUCT, have concluded a cooperation agreement to build a SMEAR station in Beijing. The contract entails a large amount of funding from China. The agreement was concluded in conjunction with PM Juha Sipilä’s trip to China.

At Academy Professor Markku Kulmala’s initiative, the University of Helsinki previously built a similar station in Nanjing. Together with his research group, Professor Kulmala seeks to construct a global network of SMEAR (Station for Measuring Ecosystem Atmosphere Relations) superstations. The stations are field laboratories which measure the matter and energy flows between the atmosphere, soil and vegetation. The goal is an ambitious one and, in addition to China and Finland, SMEAR stations are currently under construction in Russia and Estonia. The first station was built in Värriö, Finland, in 1991. The Beijing SMEAR station will be modelled after the station in Hyytiälä.

Monitoring Pollution problems 

The goal of the Beijing station is to identify and monitor the primary culprits for the capital’s pollution problems. The cooperation with BUCT will help China tackle its air pollution issues.  The new, meticulously precise station can monitor more than one thousand different substances. Air pollution is a life-threatening problem in China, where 2.5 million people die of smog-related causes every year. The station is being built by the University of Helsinki’s Centre of Excellence in Atmospheric Science which is funded by the Academy of Finland.

Rector Jukka Kola believes the agreement is a wonderful example and an important recognition of the international impact of the University of Helsinki’s top research.

 -Top research originally conducted in Finland is expanding to solve global problems, remarks Kola with satisfaction.

Kola praises Markku Kulmala and his team for their long-term, high-standard, high-impact work. 

- During the past few years, we have invested heavily in university cooperation in China, and the strategic partnership with Beijing University is a central example of this. The new contract and cooperation will further strengthen our connections to China and to Asia in general.

Markku Kulmala is a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences

Markku Kulmala, aerosol and environmental physicist, is the only Finn to become a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CAS. This means that Kulmala holds an advisory position on environmental issues for the Chinese government.

Photo: Linda Tammisto