In 2020, the St Petersburg Committee for Arctic Affairs collected the data on grant support of the research organisations in the sphere of Arctic studies in St Petersburg. The monitoring results showed that the majority of projects supported by various research foundations of the country were performed by the scientists of St Petersburg University (19 projects).

The history of reclaiming the Arctic is closely connected to the history of St Petersburg University. A series of eminent polar explorers studied and worked at the University. Stepan Krasheninnikov, Pyotr Kropotkin, Vladimir Wiese, Yuly Shokalsky, Yevgeny Fyodorov, Alexey Treshnikov, Viktor Buinitsky and many others. Today St Petersburg University continues to take the lead in studies of the Arctic and polar regions among research and educational establishments in Russia and worldwide. The scientists of the oldest national university actively participate in various international projects, sea and land expeditions.

Since 2012, the University has been a member of the most influential research and educational association in the world — the University of the Arctic. It unites over 200 universities and research centres in Europe, Russia, the USA, Canada and non-arctic states.

Moreover, the honour of holding the first ever UArctic Congress with over 500 participants was given to St Petersburg University.

Due to the fact that St Petersburg University is a classic university implementing projects in various fields, it manages to follow the main global trend in Arctic studies — a multidisciplinary approach.

Better than any other field, Arctic studies vividly display the advantages of a classic university that provides for targeted as well as multidisciplinary research. St Petersburg University has a possibility to implement large-scale multidisciplinary projects due to highly qualified personnel and research potential.

Sergey Aplonov, Director of the Arctic Research Centre at St Petersburg University, Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy

‘In 2020, University scientists published 159 articles on the topics of the Arctic in top-rated journals indexed by Scopus and Web of Science. In 2015, 85 articles of the kind were published. In terms of publications, St Petersburg University took the first place in St Petersburg, the second place in Russia and the eighth place in the world. Besides, modern equipment of the University Research Park as well as broad long-standing international relations allow for the research at the very high level,’ underscored the Director of the Arctic Research Centre at St Petersburg University, Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy Sergey Aplonov.

Modern research of University scientists covers a broad range of different fields of knowledge. Thus, under the supervision of University Professor Maxim Vinarski, biologists study the human impact on the freshwater ecosystems of the Arctic (Arctic snails: St Petersburg University scientists take first census of Arctic freshwater molluscs in 130 years). A group of oceanologists headed by Tatyana Belonenko studies the impact of vortex-type processes in the Norwegian Sea on the temperature rise in the polar region. St Petersburg University graduate student Anfisa Berezina examines the burning issue of micro-plastic in the Arctic Ocean. Her project ‘Modelling the impact of biogeochemical and ecosystem processes on microplastic transfer in the Arctic seas’ supervised by Associate Professor Boris Ivanov was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

The research group of Professor Evgeny Abakumov works at the intersection of soil studies and ecology. It examines a number of issues related to Arctic soils: from soil agroecosystems in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug to the icecap degradation in the polar regions. University geologists are involved in studying fundamental problems. University Associate Professor Viktoriia Ershova’s project devoted to magmatism in the southern part of the Kara block also received support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Fundamental Research for two years.

Almost all similar fundamental research at the University has a distinct applicable nature. The research results can translate into action within a short period of time. Such an approach to Arctic studies provides for the main condition of modern polar research, which is the search of balance between the efficient economic reclamation of the northern polar region and preservation of its fragile and in many ways unique ecosystem.

Sergey Aplonov, Director of the Arctic Research Centre at St Petersburg University, Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy

Another competitive advantage of St Petersburg University is the capability of training highly qualified specialists. ‘The University operation is based on its own academic standards, which allows for developing its own version of the academic programme content. It helps us to create academic programmes in line with the current trends and react fast to the changes in the modern market of human resources,’ believes the Director of the Arctic Research Centre at St Petersburg University. First and foremost, these are the graduates of the ‘Arctic’ academic programmes — ‘Polar and Marine Sciences’, ‘Cold Regions Environmental Landscapes Integrated Science (CORELIS)’ and other programmes. The graduates of other specialisations are also in demand: managers, historians, physicists, etc. A number of programmes are implemented based on the double-degree model in cooperation with international partner universities. This allows for consideration of best practices from the leading educational organisations worldwide.