Arctic Finland 2023 Expedition

Five young scientists, all attached to the Grantham Institute, have won the support of the RCSA Trust and of the IC Exploration Board for their hike along the Karkunkierros Trail in north-eastern Finland, right on the border with Russia.

An expedition to the Arctic by Carl Linnaeus in the 18th century serves as the founding inspiration for this trip, and the five are working closely with the Linnean Society of London.

In 1732, Carl Linnaeus, the renowned Swedish biologist, underwent an expansive exploration of northern Scandinavia, documenting the flora and fauna found within. The trip proved to be seminal in his career, wherein he tested out his newly developed system of taxonomy which would later become fundamental to biology.
His trip is approaching its 300th anniversary and, coincidentally, he began his trip at the same age as many in our expedition party. We therefore think the timing provides the perfect opportunity, both to commemorate his adventure and to forge one of our own.

Becky Ryder, Expedition Leader

The main aim of hiking the Karkunkierros Trail (which translates into English as “Bear’s Trail” or “Bear’s Ring”) is to observe and record the natural history of the region. The birds and the flora encountered during the hike will be input into two important biological databases – eBird and iNaturalist, respectively. Records like this are hugely important for understanding changes in biological communities over time, allowing and understanding of the effects of anthropogenic threats like climate change and habitat conversion.

Ten days of hard hiking over the 82km trail will take our intrepid scientists through areas of outstanding natural beauty with dense spruce forests, interlaced with a mosaic of ponds and rivers. The trail winds up and down, across ridges, woodlands, and meadows. The adventurers will swim and kayak in near frozen lakes, white-water raft on rapids and wild camp in remote wildernesses.

We wish the group the best of luck with this demanding expedition and look forward to reading their post-expedition report and attending their post expedition presentation, to which RCSA members will be invited.

As one part of its programme, the RCSA Trust have been supporting the adventurous activities of our science students since 1990. Please consider making a donation to the Trust. Any amount, however small, will be gratefully received and every penny will be faithfully applied to assist the students of the Royal College of Science.

We would like to acknowledge the photographer Jonna Kalliomäki and to thank Minna Koramo of Metsähallitus for permission to use their evocative photograph.