Biofilia - Base for Biological Arts
Snow crystal formations, photo:Paasonen&Paranko

Open Seminar: The Biology of Snow

06.03.2013 / 09:00 - 15:30

The Biology of Snow

Open Seminar, on Wed 6th March 2013

Otaniemi Campus, Otakaari 7B, School of Electrical Engineering (ELEC) Sähkötalo 1

How to get there: Bus number 102 from Kamppi, bus stop "Teekkarikylä"

The seminar is available in real-time streaming:

The seminar “The Biology of Snow” at Aalto Biofilia observes the snow as a captivating natural phenomenon and a significant part of the water cycle. Natural scientists specialized in researching snow will present their research related with its origin, physiology, morphology and the significance for the life in the Earth.

The program, designed by artist and researcher Leena Valkeapää, will give an introduction to the nascency of the snow in the aerosphere, the essence of the snow fallen on to the ground and its significance for the flora and fauna. The snow and the organisms living in it will be contemplated under the microscope. The seminar will also introduce participants to the tools and methodologies used by natural scientists, and interconnect with artistic thinking and practice.

The seminar is open to the public and marks the beginning of “The Biology of Snow and Arctic Experience” workshop, that will take students north to the Kilpisjärvi Biological Field Station of the University of Helsinki.

The presentations will be given by three snow researchers, PhD Dmitri Moisseev (University of Helsinki), PhD Sirpa Rasmus (University of Jyväskylä) and Prof. Pekka Niemelä (University of Turku).

The snowchange reflects to the decision making of local people and is linked to a larger worldliness of the weather, that covers – beside the knowledge of snow – the Moon, dreams, stars, winds, traditions and experiences.

 PhD Tero Mustonen,




Opening of the seminar by artist, DA Leena Valkeapää and Ulla Taipale, Aalto Biofilia

 9.15. – 9.45    

Presentation: Cloud Physics.  PhD Dmitri Moiseev, University of Helsinki

9.45 -  10.00    

Demonstration: Snowflake formation viewed in a microscope.  (Marika Hellman, Aalto Biofilia)


Presentation: Physics and Ecology of Snow. PhD Sirpa Rasmus, University of Jyväskylä

Sample taking from the Otaniemi snow cover.

12.00-13.00   Lunch


Presentation: Arthropods living in the snow. PhD Pekka Niemelä, University of Turku

13.30.- 14.30.

Practical session: Observations of melted snow under the microscope with Pekka Niemelä


Closing the seminar: Up to Kilpisjärvi, the arctic experience. Artist, Leena Valkeapää


Student Workshop 10-17th March,  Kilpisjärvi Biological Station (University of Helsinki)

 Closing seminar on 10th April, lead by artist, PhD, Leena Valkeapää



PhD Dmitri Moiseev

Dmitri Moisseev is an assistant professor at Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Physics,  University of Helsinki. He has received M.S. degree from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow, Russia, in 1997 and the Ph.D. degree  from Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands, in 2002. He has joined the University of Helsinki in 2007, after his stay at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. At University of Helsinki, Dr. Moisseev leads the radar meteorology group. The main research topic of the group is the measurement and characterisation of winter precipitation using ground and space-borne radar systems.

PhD Sirpa Rasmus

Sirpa Rasmus is a geophysicist and in her research she studied structure of the snow cover, differences of snow between open areas and different types of forests and, most recently, snow ecology. Snow ecology studies interactions between living things and snow cover. Presently she did reserach on effects of snow conditions on reideer in Finnish Lapland. In her work she uses both field observations and computer modeling of snow. In her modeling studies she also estimates effects of climate change on snow conditions in Finland, and how this may affect the animals and plants adapted to present day snow conditions. Beside research, she teaches, writes and works sometimes as an aviation meteorologist to earn her living.

She studied at University of Helsinki (geophysics, physics, mathematics and environmental sciences) and conducted field work around Finland - most intensively in Lammi, southern Finland and in Lapland in Kilpisjärvi area.

Prof. Pekka Niemelä

Prof. Pekka Niemelä (University of Turku) has over 35 years research experience on ecological interactions. He has studied plant- herbivore interactions and interactions in terrestrial webs especially in subarctic and boreal forest ecosystems.  He has also studied invasive forest insects and pathogens and their role in forest ecosystems. During last few years Pekka Niemelä has studied the effect of climate change on forest and subarctic ecosystems and plant herbivore-interactions.  Pekka Niemelä has published 170 peer-reviewed papers and supervised 25 Ph.D. theses. He has participated in the Centre of Excellence in Boreal Forest Ecosystem Management Research funded by the Academy of Finland and is working party leader in Nordic  Centre of Excellence (NCoE) Tundra. Pekka Niemelä is and ISI Highly Cited Researcher and honorable doctor of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Artist, DA Leena Valkeapää

Leena Valkeapää lives in the wilderness in the northwest Lapland. Her doctoral dissertation In the Nature (2011) proposed a dialogue with nature ans its poets. Se has exhibited as a visual artist since (1988) and has produced public environmental artworks, including the rock wall piece Ice Veil (1999) in Turku. Leena Valkeapää works as an independent researcher and artist and is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Art, Design and Architecture in Aalto University.

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