Anna Virkkala Ph.D.

  • Research Scientist
Anna Virkkala

Dr. Anna Virkkala is a physical geographer using remote sensing, statistical methods, and literature reviews to develop a holistic understanding of how Arctic climate change affects terrestrial ecosystems. She is currently studying Arctic carbon emissions and compiling a synthesis database of carbon cycle measurements from over 200 sites, specifically focusing on CO2 flux measurements. Dr. Virkkala aims to upscale this database to understand carbon budgets for the Arctic-Boreal region and how they have changed over the past 40 years. In addition to her research on Arctic ecosystems and carbon cycling, she is interested in reviewing and synthesizing scientific knowledge.

Left: Dr. Virkkala doing chamber measurements to quantify the rate of carbon cycling in the ecosystem. Right: Fieldwork in the northern Fennoscandian tundra.

Photos by: Markus Jylhä.

Dr. Virkkala completed a B.S. at the University of Helsinki, majoring in geography with minors in biology and geology. She earned an M.S. in physical geography with minors in geoinformatics and remote sensing in 2016, and she completed her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Helsinki in 2020. For her Ph.D. thesis, Dr. Virkkala combined her undergraduate and master’s work in tundra vegetation and soil quality with carbon cycling to study CO2 fluxes in Arctic-Boreal regions.

Dr. Virkkala is motivated by the natural beauty of tundra environments, the threat of climate change, and questions about carbon cycling and ecology that remain unanswered. She hopes to one day travel to Northern Siberia to collect data from poorly studied regions. Passionate about teaching and working with curious students, Dr. Virkkala has co-supervised several bachelor’s and master’s theses and taught eight courses at the University of Helsinki. She also served as a terrestrial working group fellow in the International Arctic Science Committee from 2018-2019.

It’s difficult to collect data in these regions, but I want to be a part of the community who travels to the most remote locations to assure that we have data and knowledge from across the entire Arctic.

Selected Publications

Dwarf Shrubs Impact Tundra Soils: Drier, Colder, and Less Organic Carbon

Kemppinen, J., P. Niittynen, P., A.M. Virkkala, K. Happonen, H. Riihimäki, J. Aalto, and M. Luoto. 2021. (). .


Statistical upscaling of ecosystem CO2 fluxes across the terrestrial tundra and boreal domain: Regional patterns and uncertainties

Virkkala A.-M., J. Aalto, B.M. Rogers, T. Tagesson, C.C. Treat, S.M. Natali, J.D. Watts, S. Potter, et al. 2021. (). .


Identifying multidisciplinary research gaps across Arctic terrestrial gradients

A.-M. Virkkala, A. M. Abdi, M. Luoto, and D. B. Metcalfe. 2019. (). .