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Welcome to Kilpisjärvi

Yesterday, we traveled from Helsinki up to Kilpisjärvi to the research station where we'll be living and working for the rest of the trip. First, we fly from Helsinki to a very small airport in the town of Kittilä.
Helsinki to Kittilä by plane. Kittilä to Kilpisjärvi by bus. Kittilä is a small town north of the Arctic Circle with a population of about 6,000 people. That is very different compared to Phoenix where we're from, which has a population of almost two million people! It's also very different from Phoenix because this is the entire airport in Kittilä:
Kittilä airport, as seen from the plane when we landed  Here's what the low-Arctic of northern Finland looks like as we are about to land in Kittilä:
Of course, relative to where we are at the station, Kittilä is a bustling metropolis, because we are three hours away to the northwest. It was still pretty warm in Kittilä (like Helsinki), and it was a hot 3-hour bus ride up to the station. But here, it is much cooler, because the hot snap is over. Today, it's been about 7°C (that's 44°F). From Kittilä, we got in a minibus and drove about 3 hours northwest to Kilpisjärvi. In Finnish, "järvi" means "lake", so we are at a research station on Lake Kilpis. It is very close to the border with Norway and Sweden.

The wonderful cook at the station had a late dinner waiting for us when we arrived, and afterwards we had a lecture from our friend Leena, a local artist, about Sami art and insights from reindeer herding and their relationship with the environment. Her husband is a relative of the famous Sami artist Nils-Aslak Valkeapää. It was great for students to be able to see a bit from his perspective, now that they are in the place where he is from.

Today, we spent the morning finalizing students' research and art plans, then in the afternoon took our first excursion out into the local ecosystem. We hiked at Pikku Mala, a "strict nature reserve" (meaning, it is managed with the strictest of regulations). We saw a lot of reindeer while we were hiking, and even a bit of snow!
Xavier, Alex, Jose, me, Robin, and Elisabeth on the trail next to Siiläsjarvi The Arizonan students ask "What is this white stuff?" We had a nice time exploring the ecosystem with binoculars and field microscopes, but tomorrow it's back to the grindstone with getting students' research projects up and running! | Impressum