The collaboration between University of Helsinki (UH) and Nanjing University (NJU) has already been well established for a quite a long time. In 2009 Professors Markku Kulmala and Pertti Hari visited Nanjing University and agreed to help in building a SMEAR-type comprehensive research station. The first measurements of aerosols and meteorological conditions were performed in 2011 and the official opening ceremony of the Station for Observing Regional Processes of the Earth System (SORPES) was kept in 2012. That of course means that the 10-year anniversary of the station is approaching next year. The collaboration was further deepened in 2015 when the Joint international research Laboratory of Atmospheric and Earth System Sciences (JirLATEST) was established in Nanjing University together with UH.
The collaboration between the two parties and the exchange of students and researcher have been active throughout the whole time. However, as everyone knows, the COVID-19 outbreak has influenced drastically international travelling and therefore the movement of researchers have been on halt since the beginning of 2020. To maintain the close collaboration, monthly meetings between the UH and NJU have been started to share the latest results and ideas for further collaboration. These discussions have been in vital role in maintaining the ongoing scientific collaboration during these challenging times. In addition, we have been lucky to have two researchers from INAR to be appointed full time in NJU (Ass. Prof. Tom Kokkonen and Assoc. Prof. Martha Zaidan) which has also helped the scientific collaboration between the two universities. Tom Kokkonen moved to China already before the COVID-19, but Martha Zaidan moved to China in December 2020, when the international travelling was highly restricted. Nanjing University was very active in helping Martha to arrive in the country during the pandemic and helped with all the formalities during the tightened border control.
Associate Professor Martha Zaidan (left) and Assistant Professor Tom Kokkonen (right) in front of the Nanjing University, School of Atmospheric Sciences’ building.
The collaboration between the University of Helsinki and Nanjing University will be further deepening in the near future. NJU and UH will build another SMEAR-type SORPES station to a new campus that Nanjing University is building in Suzhou, a city that is located approximately 250 km west from Nanjing. In addition, Nanjing University together with Helsinki University are planning to start a dual-degree program in atmospheric sciences in the new campus. However, due to the COVID-19, there have been delays in the construction of the new campus even if the work is ongoing at the moment. In addition, due to the travel restrictions, the official approval of the program has been delayed also. Therefore, it is still unclear when the dual-degree program can be officially started, but when the new campus and the research station are ready and the dual-degree program is established, the scientific collaboration and exchange of researchers and students will increase even further.