Ecosystems and Environment

The wide-ranging and multidisciplinary Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme investigates the effects of human activity on land and aquatic ecosystems. Our researchers are looking for solutions to current environmental problems. The focus areas of the programme are:

  • Climate change and arctic areas
  • The Baltic Sea 
  • Urban ecosystems

Climate change research is focused on both long-term climate fluctuations and the causes of recent global warming as well as the effects of climate change on ecosystems. Among other things, this encompasses the role of black carbon in climate change and the carbon cycle in arctic areas, as well as the development of climate risks in society.

Research on the Baltic Sea and its drainage basin is focused on the structure and function of marine and inland aquatic ecosystems, as well as the effects of climate change and eutrophication on their diversity. We also assess the environmental risks posed by fishing and marine traffic, and study changes in the drainage basin caused by humans.

Urban ecosystem research aims to investigate and solve environmental issues related to urbanisation. The research is focused on urban biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by green areas, such as the mitigation of air pollution and storm water damage, as well as their socioecological reflections. The latter includes the investigation of social values, environmental justice and subjective wellbeing. 

Each research focus area is linked with the UN’s sustainable development goals


The strengths of the Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme include: 

  • The drive to conduct excellent research and creatively and positively contribute to society in diverse ways by a forward-looking and dynamic group generated from the bottom up
  • The production of world-class science
  • A strong capacity to obtain external funding
  • Our diverse publications (see the University of Helsinki Research Portal)

The programme employs 18 research groups, 37 principal investigators and 40 researchers representing 12 nationalities.


Our research groups have strong ties to research networks in both the University of Helsinki and on the international stage. Our Finnish partners include among other things: Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). Our international partners include among other things: University of Auckland (New Zealand), University of Stockholm (Sweden), universities within the University of Arctic network and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (China).  

Other important cooperation partners are cities of Helsinki, Lahti and Kotka, as well as other facets supporting and funding research, such as Walter and Andrée de Nottbeck Foundation sr, Onni Talas Foundation, R.Erik ja Bror Serlachius Foundation sr, The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland, Päijät-Hämeen Vesijärvi Foundation, the Port of Hanko, and Viking Line.

Degree programmes

The degree programmes at the University of Helsinki in which our researchers provide instruction include the following: