4. Field work plan, Kiruna & Tarfala

4.1 Introduction

7. Mining landscape at Kiruna, Swedish Arctic. Photo: Dag Avango

From June 26 to July 7 2016, the field component of the course Environment and society in a changing Arctic (AK1214) will take place at Kiruna, Tarfala and Gällivare, all located in the Norrbotten county of Arctic Sweden. The objective of the field work is to train students in addressing the main research problems of the course, by documenting and analyzing a) natural phenomena giving evidence on climate change and its environmental impacts and 2) built environments and data pertaining to the legacies of natural resource exploitation in the Arctic. As a part of this field work, the students will collect data for use in their essays.

Participants will arrive at Kiruna on June 26. On July 7 all course participants will depart Kiruna (or stay on private expense).

4.2 General info about food and accommodation

The field work component of the course is divided in to three sections: 1) from the 27th to the 28th of June in Kiruna, 2) from the 29th until the 2nd of July at Tarfala Research Station, Kebnekaise, and 3) from July 3 to July 7 in Gällivare and its vicinity.

4.2.1 In Kiruna

During the days we spend in Kiruna we will stay at SPiS Hotell & Hostel - Kiruna, located at Bergmästaregatan 7. This guest house is simple but conveniently located close to the centre of Kiruna, where shops, restaurants and most field work localities are located. Meals can be prepared at the guest house with food acquired from local food stores. There are also restaurants in Kiruna. 

8. Ralph Erskine architecture, Kiruna. Photo: Dag Avango

4.2.2 At Tarfala

9. Research labs and accommodations for scientists at Tarfala research station. Photo: Dag Avango

During the period of time when the course component is based at Tarfala, we will have rooms and all meals at the station.

4.2.3 At Gällivare

In Gällivare municipality we will stay in cabins at Hotel Dundret, located just outside of the municipality on the top of a mountain, overlooking vast expanses of forests, mountains and the mining communities we will visit and study. Accommodation is in small cabins which share in groups of 4. The cabins have fully equipped kitchens, providing excellent conditions for doing your own cooking. They are also suitable for conducting work on essay and in the adjacent restaurant and conference building, there are meeting rooms - Dundret

4.3 Safety

The field work will take place in environments which calls for careful behavior. Therefore we want you follow the lead and instructions of the course leadership. If you do not know what you should do, always go and ask a course leader. Never take drastic initiatives without first communicating with the course leaders.

Kiruna, Tarfala and Gällivare are all situated in the Arctic. The weather is unpredictable and can been everything from sunshine and 20 degrees Celsius (+) to zero with strong winds and even snowfall. Extended rainfall is common. This means that as a minimum requirement, you must bring 1) shell clothes (jacket and trousers) that must be water proof, 2) a warm second layer (preferably fleece), 3) a thinner inner layer (shirt+long johns) and 4) sturdy and water proof hiking boots. 5) Hat, gloves, sunglasses. You are obliged to bring these items. If you do not, you may be unable to take part in the field work at Tarfala.

There are mosquitos in the region below the tree-line. Lots of them. Bring repellent.

Also make sure to bring extra clothes to change if you get wet. Bring a daypack rucksack for carrying lunch sandwiches and dry clothes during field work excursions. To use common sense is the best advice. At the end of this course description there is a packing list. Bring the clothing and equipment specified on that list.

A re-occuring advice from previous students in the Arctic course is: do not bring too much luggage. You need a lot less than you think!

If you have any further questions concerning equipment, do not hesitate to contact Dag Avango ( avango@kth.se ).

10. Preparation for safe crossing of glacier by staff and scientists at Tarfala research station. Photo: Dag Avango

4.4 Schedule

June 26. Airline travel to Kiruna

Flight for Kiruna depart Arlanda, terminal 4. We meet at Arlanda airport, terminal 4, 2.5 hours in advance of the flight. This is motivated by our experience that it takes a very long time to check in a big group of mixed nationalities. Be there on time.

Flight schedule:

Departure (Arlanda aiport, terminal 4, flight TBD):            12.25

Arrival (Kiruna airport):                                                      14.00

After arrival at Kiruna we will go by taxi to Spis and get our rooms. Thereafter we take a joint walk to acquire any needed foodstuffs.

In the evening we will have a brief meeting about field work tasks during the following day, followed by dinner and free time. 

June 27. Kiruna: the impacts of mining on townscapes and landscapes

Field work in the Kiruna area. This day we will devote to studying the town of Kiruna and the landscapes surrounding it, as an example on the consequences of mining for environments and communities in the Arctic. This we will do in the form of a guided tour around Kiruna, arranged by Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården. The schedule is the following:

13.00: Meet outside of Folkets Hus (Kiruna town hall) for introduction

13.15-14.45: Bus tour through the Luossavaara area, the old company town and the place where the new Kiruna will be built.

14.45-15.15: Guided tour at Kiruna church

15.15-15-25: Walk to Kiruna town hall

15.25-15.55: Guided tour in the Kiruna town hall

15.55-16.05: Walk to Hjalmar Lundbohmgården

16.05-17.00: Visit at Hjalmar Lundbohmsgården. Information about the relocation plan for Kiruna. Time for questions and discussions (incl. sandwhich and coffee)

17.00-            Activities of your choice

June 28. Kiruna: defining the future through mining, municipal planning and narration

Field work in Kiruna area. This day we will devote to the study of mining impacts as well as the way that the main mining company at Kiruna, LKAB, describes its activities in the past, present and the future. To do this we will be involved in the following activities:

08.30-10.30:        We will follow the midnight sun trail cross the old mining area Luossavaara, from where we will also be able to study the mining landscapes of Kirunavaara and Lappmalmfältet.

10.30-11.00:        Walk from Luossavaara to Samegården museum.

11.00-12.00:        Study the exhibition at Samegården museum, which is focused on Sami culture and history in the Kiruna area.        Lunch

13.00-16.45:        Meet at Kiruna tourism office in central Kiruna. Tour down into the Kirunavaara iron ore mine.

16.45-17.30:        Short de-briefing and discussion on mining impacts and the variety of narratives about Kiruna presented                                   over the past two days.  

17.30-                 Preparation for hike to Nikkaluokta and the stay at Tarfala research station (get snacks etc). Free spare time.

11. LKAB representative at the company's visitors center 500 m below ground in the Kiruna mine, explaining LKAB's motives for moving the town of Kiruna to a new location.. Photo: Dag Avango

June 29. Kiruna-Tarfala

Check out from Spis guest house in the early morning. Departure for Nikkaluokta by bus. At Nikkaluokta the road ends. There we will be met by a helicopter which will transport our entire luggage to the Tarfala research station. After the helicopter has departed, we hike along the trail to the Tarfala Research Station (about 20 kilometers) through spectacular alpine terrain. During the walk to Tarfala, an important field work task is to take notes on and photos document infrastructures and resources that are part of the tourism industry in the region.

June 30. Tarfala valley: the impacts of climate change on alpine plant ecology

Field work at Tarfala valley. The day will begin with a set of introductory lectures based on the climate science research conducted at the research station, focusing on the environmental impacts of climate change in the region. Lunch at the station at 12.00. In the afternoon we will conduct data collection pertaining to climate change induced changes in the alpine vegetation.

12. Field lecture on the environmental consequences of climate change at Tarfala valley. Photo: Dag Avango

July 1. Tarfala valley - impacts of climate change on glaciers

Field work at Tarfala valley. The day will be devoted to a full day excursion to the Storglaciären glacier, for the study of glacier retreat and field lectures. Lectures at the station in the late afternoon.

July 2. Tarfala valley - environmental impacts of climate change on glaciers and geo-morphology

Field work at Tarfala valley. The day will be devoted to a full day excursion up the moraines of Tarfala glacier, to study of lichens as an indicator of glacier retreat. Lectures at the station in the late afternoon.

July 3. Tarfala valley – Nikkaluokta - Gällivare

Departure for Nikkaluokta. All luggage will be transported with helicopter. Students and teachers will hike back the 20 kilometers (+) along the trail. Upon arrival at Nikkaluokta, we will travel by bus back to Kiruna and from there onward by minibuses to Gällivare. At Gällivare we will check in to our cabins at Dundret.

13. Field work below the highest peak of Sweden - Kebnekaise. Photo: Dag Avango

July 4. Malmberget and Laponia – impacts of a megasystem for mining on the environments and communities

Field work at Malmberget and the Laponia world heritage site. We will start our field work at 09.00 in the mining town Malmberget, located near Gällivare, where we will work until lunch time at 12.30. During the day we will study the impacts of ongoing as well as historic mining activities for the community and its environment. We will study the mining town, which will be abandoned in the coming years because of the mining activities underneath it. We will also visit the Malmberget Sports hall, in which the artist supported by the Gällivare municipality and the LKAB shows an exhibition about the relocation of the inhabitants of Malmberget. While eating lunch we bring along, we will travel by mini-bus to the Laponia world heritage site – a mixed natural and cultural world heritage site located in the mountains to the west of Gällivare. Here we will study how the larger mega-system for mining has influenced the landscape, its eco-system and the Sami indigenous population, and how the world heritage site management deals with the impacts of industry on their site.

08.30-11.00:     Tour through the town of Malmberget, including the re-construction of the Malmberget shanty town.

11.00-12.00:     Visit at the Malmberget exhibition in the sports hall.

12.30-14.00:     Travel to Stora Sjöfallet national park / Lapponia world heritage site.

14.00-15.30:     Guided tour through at Naturrum Lapponia visitor centre.

15.30-17.00:     Visits to the Suorva and Ritsem hydro power stations and dams.

17.00-18.00:     Return to Dundret

Stora Sjöfallet, Laponia National Park

July 5. Porjus and Jokkmokk (Ajtte)

Field visit to the Ajtte museum on Sami history and culture, and a visit at the Porjus hydro power station. Ajtte presents a number of thematic exhibitions, dealing with different topics concerning Sami culture and history. At the museum we will have a guided tour through their exhibition, with several opportunities to pose questions. After the visit at Ajtte we will go along the Lule river and make stops at a number of hydro-power dams located along the way towards the Porjus hydro-power station. This station was built at the beginning of the 20th century to provide electric power to the Norrbotten iron ore mines and the railway system connecting them to the harbors at Luleå and Narvik. The Porjus power station and the massive water dam it created has strongly effected the lives and economic activities of Sami reindeer herders in the areas. At the Porjus station a Vattenfall representative will show us the hydropower station and a historical exhibition there. Thus, Porjus is an example on the impacts of the several large hydro power stations that was built by Swedish companies in Sápmi through much of the 20th century, as well as an example on how the energy company that runs it narrates its history to visitors.

07.30:                 Departure for Jokkmokk

08.45:                 Arrival at Ajtte

09.00-11.00:       Guided tour at the exhibition

11.00-12.30:       Time available for other visits in the Jokkmokk area

12.30-13.00:       Travel to Porjus

13.15-15.00:       Guided tour at Porjus hydro-power plant

15.00-17.00:       Visits at nearby hydro-power dams, departure for Dundret

July 6. Aitik

Field work at the Boliden Aitik mine, located near Gällivare. This day will be devoted to an extensive visit the mining company Boliden’s open cast copper mine at Aitik. The mine is one of the largest open cast mines in Europe, extending 3,5 km by 800 meters, with a depth of about 500 meters and tailing ponds as large as Södermalm in Stockholm. The mine visit will give an idea about the impacts of mining on Arctic landscapes as well as some of the problems pertaining to landscape remediation. The visit will also help our understanding of the larger infrastructures and production processes connected with mining.

07.30:                  Departure for Aitik.

08.00-12.00:        Tour around Aitik.

After the visit at Aitik we have the afternoon free for other activities, possibly involving some positive surprises.

15. Aitik copper mine - one of the largest open pit mines in Europe. Photo: Dag Avango
16. Students by an ore truck at Aitik. Photo: Dag Avango

July 7. Departure to Kiruna and airline transport back to Stockholm

Check out from Dundret in the morning.

09.00: departure Gällivare, arrival at airport at 10.30 am

13.30: flight leaves for Stockholm

15.05: flight arrives at Arlanda

Luggage pick up at KTH


17. Final group photo before leaving Tarfala valley, Arctic course, summer 2014. . Photo: Ninis Rosqvist
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