International expedition “Tundra Ecology-94”

International expedition “Tundra Ecology-94” International expedition “Tundra Ecology-94”

Expedition “Tundra Ecology-94” was a mega-event initiated by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat. On the Russian part, Prof. E.Syroechkovskiy Sr., one of the most prominent scientists in the Arctic environmental science, headed of expedition.

On May 30, 1994 R/V Akademik Fedorov, an ice class research vessel started from St.Petersburg for Gothenburg to take the international research team onboard, sail round Scandinavia and come to the coasts of the Kola Peninsula.

The expedition consisted of scientists, artists, photographers, reporters from Russia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, UK, USA, Denmark, Iceland and Australia. It was one of the kind expedition to the Russian Arctic. The scientists were grouped in teams under similar research programs.R/V Akademik Fedorov is one of the best Russian research vessels with two MI-8 helicopters onboard.

Scientists landing in tundra from helicopter.

The work was organized as follows: the vessel was moving slowly along the Arctic coastline and helicopters delivered scientists to the study areas. In 2-3 days the research teams were collected from the sites by helicopters and brought back to the vessel. The total 26 field work sites were visited and studied during the period of expedition. The areas of research were most diverse and included: population ecology of flora and fauna, genetic differentiation, monitoring of climate change impact on land and marine ecosystems, etc. The expedition allowed to collect unique scientific data and to lay the basis for future long-term joint research programs. Also the most acute environmental problems were outlined. It became possible to define the boundaries of the future specially protected territories, birds migration routes, marine mammals numbers, etc.

Such method allowed to obtain good results in various branches of science, when representatives of different branches of science jointly visited same area and investigated one and the same site or problem from different points of view.

 Vladimir Vasiliev, President of the Northern Forum Academy


 …its purpose is absolutely fantastic: to cover, in one navigation, the route from St.Petersburg to Chukotka and back, and you must note that it is not an icebreaker, and in addition- to study the ecology of tundra at 18 coastal points!

Scientific measurements onboard R/V Akademik Fedorov.

Nevertheless, the Russian-Swedish research expedition “Tundra Ecology-94” became real. It started in the end of May, 1994 from St.Petersburg. The vessel sailed by the Baltic Sea to the Swedish port of Gothenburg, where after loading Swedish scientific equipment, food-stuffs and fuel the vessel sailed further to Murmansk. In Murmansk the ship took onboard two MI-8helicopters with Dikson aviation crew. The crew started the work immediately as the first field research site was in the eastern Kola Peninsula. The total number of landings on the route of navigation was 9: Kolskiy, Kanin Nos, Kolguev Island, Russkiy Zavorot Peninsula in the Pechora river delta, western Yamal, Arkticheskogo Instituta islands, western Taimyr, Cape Cheluskin, eastern Taimyr

Airborne ice reconnaissance system.

In early July, ice reconnaissance aircraft IL-18 delivered a new group of Swedish and Russian scientists to Khatanga airport (Krasnoyarskiy region). The aircraft also fulfiled strategic ice reconnaissance survey and evacuated the group of specialists who had finished their scientific work. By that time R/V Akademik Fedorov approached the area of the Laptev Sea with icebreaker support and the new group was delivered to the vessel by ship helicopters.

Further on the way of navigation ice situation became so difficult that required the most professional advice from prominent polar experts: Master of the ship S.Maslennikov, experienced polar explorer N.Kornilov and ice expert A.Masanov were those who took the challenge and gained the battle with ice. The vessel managed to reach the area east of Pevek from where the scientists were delivered by helicopters to the final field sites: Koliuchinskaya Guba at Chukotka (the place where famous Swedish polar explorer Nils Nordensheld had wintered) and Wrangel Island.

In addition to above areas scientists also visited the New Siberian Islands- Belkovskiy, Kotelny and Faddeevskiy islands, the Auon Island and the continental area in the vicinity of rivers Yana, Indigirka and Kolyma. The next rotation of research staff was arranged in the port of Tiksi in the beginning of August. Swedish senior research team gave place to students and post-graduates. The ship turned back and made stops at the same points as on the way to the east. In the beginning of September the ship arrived to Gothenburg where Swedish equipment and samples were unloaded and then sailed to St.Petersburg.

A total of 200 expedition members: scientists, operators, photographers and even artists from the 9 countries took part in expedition. The Russian research team headed by Prof. E.Syroechkovskiy and Prof. E.Rogacheva was represented by almost all the branches of biology. Each research group headed by experienced polar research specialists included also students, post-graduates and Ph.D.students- such combination allowed to make the work most effective and interesting and to gain the best scientific results.


Sergey Goryachkin, PH.D. in Geography