July 4, 2017

University of Helsinki helps Beijing go clean

Air pollution is at dangerous levels in Beijing.
Air pollution is at dangerous levels in Beijing.
Istock.com/Spondylolithesis

The University of Helsinki and the Beijing University of Chemical Technology (BUCT) have concluded a co-operation agreement to build a SMEAR station in Beijing.

According to the University of Helsinki, the contract includes a significant sum of funding from China. The agreement was concluded in conjunction with Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s trip to China.

The University of Helsinki previously built a similar station in Nanjing. A research group, led by professor Markku Kulmala, seeks to construct a global network of SMEAR (Station for Measuring Ecosystem Atmosphere Relations) superstations. The stations are field laboratories, measuring matter and energy flows between the atmosphere, soil and vegetation.

The first station was built in Finland in 1991. In addition to China and Finland, there are SMEAR stations currently under construction in Russia and Estonia.

The new station can monitor more than 1 000 different substances. The aim of the Beijing station is to identify and monitor the primary causes for the city’s pollution issues, and the co-operation with BUCT will help China tackle the problem.

Air pollution is at dangerous levels in China, where 2.5 million people die of smog-related causes every year.

Rector Jukka Kola believes the agreement is a wonderful example and an important recognition of the international impact of the University of Helsinki’s top research.

“Top research originally conducted in Finland is expanding to solve global problems,” he says. “During the past few years, we have invested heavily in university co-operation in China, and the strategic partnership with Beijing University is a central example of this. The new contract and co-operation will further strengthen our connections to China and to Asia in general.”

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