Tarfala Forskningsstation
Institutionen för naturgeografi
Stockholms Universitet
106 91 Stockholm
Station Manager:
Gunhild Rosqvist
TA/RA contacts:
Gunhild Rosqvist

Shortlist from Station Catalogue over facilities and science disciplines.



Tarfala Research Station is owned and run by the Department of Physical GeographyThe study of the Earth, such as places, landforms, people and processes by which the Earth changes over time. Geography is divided into two main branches: human geography and physical... More, Stockholm University, Sweden.


Tarfala Research Station is located at 1130 m a.s.l. in the high alpine Kebnekaise Mountains, northern Sweden. The catchment reaches from 700 to 2100 m a.s.l. and includes several small glaciers of which Storglaciären is extensively studied. The nearest settlement is the Sami village Nikkaluokta, 25 km southeast of the station. There is a mountain tourist station 7 km, and a tourist hut 1 km from Tarfala.


Tarfala Research Station is situated in a rapidly changing environment, which offers good opportunities for a variety of bio-geochemical studies. The Storglaciären is one of the best studied glaciers in the World. The long mass-balance record shows how the glacierA glacier is a large, persistent body of land-based ice that forms over many years where the accumulation of snow is greater than its loss (ablation). The ice in a... More has responded to seasonal climate variabilityChanges in climate that are driven solely by natural processes such as variation in the Earth's orbit, the sun's energy output, volcanic activity and meteorite impacts. See also Climate change.... More during the last 70 years. The retreat of the glacier since the early 1900s is also well documented. PermafrostPermafrost is frozen ground that remains at or below zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) for two or more years. It forms in regions where the mean annual temperature is... More in the catchment is patchy, the vegetation ranges from high-alpine floraThe plants that live in a particular region, habitat or time (such as geological period like the jurassic). For animals, we use the term fauna, and to collectively refer to all... More to mountain birch forest at the tree-line. The area provides the headwaters for the unregulated Kalix River. Wildlife in the area includes reindeer, wolverine, fox, hare, stout, lemmings, and ptarmigan.


The measurements of mass balanceThe difference between the amount of ice a glacier gains in winter and the amount lost in summer. A glacier which is gaining mass has a positive mass balance: more ice is... More on Storglaciären started in the spring of 1946. At that time the scientists used a simple tourist hut as base-camp. In the 1950s, a couple of buildings were built on the present location of the station. The facility could welcome the fi rst students and international scientists in the early 1960s. Today, Tarfala Research Station is a modern facility off ering research and education opportunities in a unique subarcticThe area immediately south of the Arctic circle. Generally, subarctic regions fall between 50°N and 70°N latitude, depending on local climate. In other words, the subarctic is the region between the... More high-alpine setting. Tarfala has c. 25 beds for guests. Rooms with two to four beds are located in houses with running water and dry toilets. Included in the per diem price is breakfast, packed lunch, and dinner. There are no shops in the vicinity. Tarfala Research Station has a modern lecture hall and a well equipped workshop. Internet access via GSM antenna is provided.


Research at Tarfala Research Station focuses on the coupling between climateThe average weather we would expect over a long period of time (seasons, years, decades). Climate varies from place-to-place across the Earth. Climate is determined by long-term (over at least... More and glaciers, glacier dynamics, glacial hydrologyThe study of water in the environment, particularly its amount, movement and quality. It encompasses water in rivers, lakes, glaciers, soil and underground aquifers. The way in which water (liquid and... More, high alpine geomorphology, mountain meteorologyThe scientific study of the atmosphere and its phenomena, especially in relation to weather and weather forecasting.... More, and permafrost. New efforts include studies of vegetation development and biogeochemistryThe study of the cycling of chemicals between organisms and the surface environment of the Earth. The Earth's surface environment is generally divided into four: the atmosphere (the gases around... More in ice, snow, water, and soil. Tarfala Research Station has its own program for monitoring climate effects on the sub-arctic nature including glacier mass balance, mountain meteorology, glacial hydrology, snow-chemistry, and permafrost. The data gives scientists unique and detailed information on the short- and long- term effects of climate changeAccording to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, climate change is change in the climate of the whole Earth or a region of the Earth that is believed... More and is freely accessible.Tarfala is part of the Swedish Infrastructure for EcosystemAll the living organisms (including people) in an area as well as its physical environment, functioning together as a unit. An ecosystem is made up of plants, animals, microorganisms, soil,... More Science (SITES).


The nearest village is Nikkaluokta, inhabited by c. 30, mainly Sami people.


Tarfala is located c. 25 km from the nearest village, Nikkaluokta, and 7 km from the Kebnekaise tourist station from where hiking and skiing to the station is possible. Local transport can be arranged from Nikkaluokta to Tarfala by snowmobile in winter and by helicopter in summer. Nikkaluokta is located 60 km west of Kiruna, which can be reached by plane or train from Stockholm.


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