Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NORSEN-meeting at Hurtigruten, 1.-3.11.2007

Even forest science is mostly office work - the field work is most often outsourced to students or specially educated forestry professionals. Practically the only variety to daily computer routines comes from different conference and meeting trips. So when I heard that there would be a possibility to attend the NORSEN-meeting arranged in Troms, Northern Norway, and the legendary coastal steamer Hurtigruten, I was of course quite eager to go, expecting to learn a little what all that field work last summer had been about, discuss with others, and just have a good time seeing new places and landscapes. Only the 13 hours travel time per direction from Joensuu was something that I did not look forward to. Especially when the route was through Helsinki and Oslo, which seemed slightly irrational from my perspective.

So in the evening of the first travelling day our group - me, Matti, Miina, Pekka, Pola, Terhikki and Juha - were sitting in the auditorium listening a presentation by a local satellite company that uses radar data e.g. to detect oil spills in the Arctic Ocean. After the unforgettable lutefisk dinner we moved to the ship - MS Trollfjorden, which was a moderate shock for someone not used to luxurious travelling… And as the morning brightened and the snowy peaks of Lofoten became visible, it became clear that the yesterdays journey had already paid off.

The meeting itself was also worth listening to. The NORSEN coalition included a number of different participants sharing an interest of using satellite data in environmental monitoring, and to me it was interesting to hear what is remote sensing outside forest sector. Usually it is seems to be much simpler… But after some hours as tiredness began to take over, you could almost imagine being on any university seminar (at least when the room was not swaying to and fro) - until you stepped out of the auditorium and saw the new surroundings. Wow! Lofoten and Hurtigruten are worth the praise they are given. Or maybe we were just lucky, as there was no rain during the whole trip…

In the Friday evening we left the ship in Svolvaer, local governmental center, and after a few hours waiting boarded another, slightly older ship that was heading back north. Next day was free, so there was plenty of time for enjoying the scenery (even sun appeared!), meals (especially dessert!) and some scientific speculations (how do you measure LAI if the trees are covered by snow?). At sunset we were back in Troms, and I’d guess many of us would like to return to Hurtigruten some day. At least as a well-off pensioner, like most of the passengers.

And then things started to go wrong: darkness, chilling wind under the cold sky, crowded restaurants, a terrible movie (that I skipped at the cost of chilling wind), burnt pizzas and slow service, smoky airport hotel, delayed flights, airport bus taking an unusual route back in Joensuu… Well, nothing disastrous actually, but when I once more began to focus on revising a laser manuscript in my room at the university next morning, the ordinary days of the new week did not seem too bad after all.

Official part


Hotel yard, sunday morning

1 comment:

Miina said...

The Hurtigruten trip was certainly one of the highlights of November. Besides that we've just focused on sitting in our offices, planning lectures, revising manuscripts and dreading the soon-to-begin season for intensive proposal writing. Nearly every day we end our lunch break by eating dark chocolate: there is definite scientific knowledge that dark chocolate reduces winter depression...