tiistai 1. joulukuuta 2020

Sirpa Rasmus, Geophysicist (Ph.D., docent)

Areas of expertise:

Changing northern environment; climate change impacts; operational environment of reindeer herding; seasonal weather; snow structure observations and modelling.

What and why: 

I have my background in geophysics and especially in snow studies; in observing and simulating snow cover structure and its annual evolution. This has meant both digging a lot of snow pits, and also studying the impacts of warming climate by combining regional climate model outputs with snow structure modelling.

Ecology of snowy environments has always fascinated me, and during the post-doctoral years I worked in research groups studying winter ecology of plants and animals. This included studying interactions between snow and boreal vegetation, and effects of snow conditions on voles and forest grouse. 

This path led me inevitably into reindeer research. It started as a collaboration between geoscientists and ecologists: how does snow affect reindeer well-being, and how to observe and simulate snow properties relevant for reindeer? Effects on reindeer herding as a livelihood followed, meaning broadening my working methods to finding, going through and interpreting archived material, like old annual reports of herding districts, and interviewing people who know more about the subject than researchers do. All this has raised so many new questions. 

At the moment I see the operational environment of reindeer herding as a complex system with endless interactions between biotic and abiotic nature, human decisions and actions, and society. I feel that there is so much to learn and understand. There are questions like changing forestry and forest pastures, reindeer-herder-society-predator –dynamics, understanding conflicts. And in the background, there are always questions about seasonal weather and its changes, and about snow; how our environment and society has adapted to winter and snow, and how will it respond to future changes.

I am part of the Global Change Research Group of the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. During years 2021-2023 I work half-time in the Past Present Sustainability Research Unit (PAES; University of Helsinki, Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme).
Recent projects and collaborations:
Gradual changes and abrupt crises - changing operational environment of Finnish reindeer herding (Vähittäisiä muutoksia ja äkillisiä kriisejä - Suomen poronhoidon muuttuva toimintaympäristö). 2016-2017, funded by Finnish Cultural Foundation and carried out at University of Jyväskylä. 

Snow conditions and reindeer winter mortality and calf production – snow related changes in a changing climate, and scenarios and adaptation potentials of reindeer herding in different reindeer herding districts (2012-2015, funded by Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry)

Tieteen ja taiteen tunturit

BALTEX Assessment of Climate Change for the Baltic Sea Basin (BACC II)

Personal interests:

Four active "children", born 1999-2009
Reading and writing; masters athletics