Vibrant autumnal period (Ruska)

In autumn in Lapland the days get shorter, rain raises the water levels of rivers, lakes and swamps, and the cooling weather helps to form a misty cloud cover over the waterways. The vibrant autumnal shades of the ruska period is a sign of nature making its preparations for the coming winter.

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In Lapland the period in early autumn when all the leaves of plants and trees turn into a yellow, red and orange colour they call Ruska.

 

Ruska intensifies day by day in early September as the nights get cooler from swamps to fell highlands. The colourful splendour is at its most spectacular around the middle of September, and sometimes at the end of the month.

TIMG_1055his phenomenon starts when the daylight hours decrease and the weather gets colder. Plants start to prepare for the long winter, the chlorophyll starts to move from the leaves into the branches, trunk and roots and this makes the colour cells in the leaves glow. The more the night-time temperatures fall below zero and the drier the weather, the more vibrant the array of colour. The birch turns a gentle shade of yellow, aspen turns red, and the leaves of blueberry and bog bilberry shrubs turn bright red.

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Many people like to come to Lapland from i.e. the south of Finland to admire the ruska by hiking in the forests and on the fells. Here you find information of how to join a ruska-trip to Lapland. And here is another travel agency’s offer. 

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Some of our birds migrate to warmer climates when autumn comes, but the local birds have to survive the cold of winter. During the autumn, squirrels store pine cones in the ground safely out of the reach of woodpeckers. The stoat and fox are also very good at hiding things.

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Some animals take a winter rest, hibernation and wake up again in the spring when the sun once again provides warmth and nutrition becomes available. The bear, badger and raccoon dog hibernate during the winter. During the autumn, these animals accumulate a layer of fat under their skins that their bodies use for nutrition through the long winter.

I am excited waiting for what the winter brings regarding the brown bears in Ranua zoo. See my earlier post.
The northern lights have already been seen in the sky above Lapland this autumn. They expect a very active northern light winter this year, so I suppose the tourists interested in the phenomenon will hurry to Lapland within the next months. Especially the Japanese are very interested in seeing northern lights.
IMG_4623In the autumn in Lapland you can fish in fluvial waters, lakes and marine areas. The provincial fish, the salmon may still be fished from the lakes. Before departing on a fishing trip you should check legal matters and statutes from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry website Lure fishing may be practiced on state-owned lure and recreational fishing regions. You can fish on private waterways without needing to pay the provincial lure fishing fee, but you must receive permission to fish the waters from the owner of the waterway. Private, joint permit region waterways like these are, for instance located on the Tornionjoki, Ounasjoki and Lower Kemijoki rivers. You need a permit to practice lure fishing.
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Reindeer herding in Lapland is based on year’s cycle that nature determines. The heat or mating season is in October. The male reindeer gather then a herd of female reindeer or does around him and at this time of the year there are large herds of reindeer also moving around on the roads. So there is a reason to be careful when driving. The female reindeer then carries the calf until the late spring. The calves are born in May and start to walk already a couple of hours after they are born.

Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis

Last night, once again, I was admiring the Northern Lights’ green curtain dancing above my head in the dark sky in the middle of the night. The Northern Lights never cease to fascinate me. Every time is unique! There are never two alike Northern lights. Even if there is no wind blowing at all on the place where you stand, the Northern Lights are moving all the time like the wind blows them; sometimes they increase and then again decrease. The next minute they come from another part of the sky and increase rapidly to long green stripes and then again decrease down to a shorter “curtain” of bright green. I have once seen a green Northern Light with a bright red center. That is more unusual.

I use to check up with sites that are special Northern Light forecast sites and I also have one of the sites sending me an e-mail when the activity is increasing, so I can move to a place where the possibilities to see Auroras is at their best. The fact is, you cannot see them in a town or city, because of the “light pollution”. There should not be any disturbing lights nearby. The nearer the North Pole you are the more above your head are the Northern Lights. If you look at them from more far away from the North Pole they appear more near the horizon.

Here are some of the sites I use to check up about Northern Lights:

The Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory near Rovaniemi is making observations and statistics over Northern Lights and I often check up their home page. This is, however, not a forecast site. It is more like statistics of how frequent the Auroras have been last night, for example. The space weather prediction center gives you more a hint of what is to be expected the next hours and The Geophysical Institute of Alaska can give you quite exact predictions of upcoming Northern Lights.

Soft serve news is also a very good site with information about Auroras and it also provides you with links to predictions sites.

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So, what is exactly the phenomenon Northern Lights or the Auroras? The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south.

The Northern Lights appear in many colors although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

Northern Lights can be seen in the northern or southern hemisphere, in an irregularly shaped oval centred over each magnetic pole. The lights are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south.
Where is the best place to see Auroras? Areas that are not subject to ‘light pollution’ are the best places to watch for the lights. There should be a clear sky, mostly in a cold winter night. Winter in the north is generally a good season to view lights. The long periods of darkness and the frequency of clear nights provide many good opportunities to watch the Auroras in Lapland. Usually the best time of night (on clear nights) to watch them is local midnight.

Researchers have also discovered that auroral activity is cyclic, peaking roughly every 11 years. This year, 2013, is a peak period.

The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common Northern Light color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.

As I do not own a camera with possibilities to take my own photographs of the Northern Lights, I have to add some photos I have found on the Internet. These are typical Northern Lights seen in Lapland.

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