About the station

Tarfala Research Station TRS was officially inaugurated in 1961 as an infrastructure for research in glaciology and geomorphology by the Department of Physical Geography.

Today, the station is led by the director Nina Kirchner together with the vice-director Per Holmlund and the interim operative station manager Annika Granebeck. The station team is complemented by a research engineer Jamie Barnett and a seasonal drift technician. During the summer season, the station team is also complemented by field assistants and kitchen staff. The station also have a board and an external science advisory group.

Nina Kirchner and Annika Granebeck, Tarfala Resarch Station. Photo Jonathan Strömberg.
Nina Kirchner and Annika Granebeck, Tarfala Resarch Station. Photo Jonathan Strömberg.

Book your visit

The station is usually open from the end of March to the beginning of May, and from the end of June to mid- September.

All outdoor activities, including transport to and from the station, are dependent on variable mountain weather. It is therefore recommended that you include extra time in your stay to allow for periods when fieldwork and/or transport may not be feasible. The station can accommodate up to 28 guests at a time, in 2- and 4-person bedrooms.

  • Familiarize yourself with the station environment, read the TRS Safety info & station etiquette and the TRS Safety agreement.  Make a well-thought out field work plan. Please note that upon arrival at Tarfala Research Station you must sign the TRS Safety agreement and provide an In Case of Emergency, ICE contact.
  • Tarfala Research Station is located in an area where the use of snowmobiles is not permitted. Exception can be granted by the County Administrative Board Norrbotten (Länsstyrelsen Norrbotten). Application handling times are at least six weeks. If you have a permit, snowmobiles can be rented in Kiruna.
  • If you plan to move outside the Tarfala valley you need to check the feasibility of your field plans with the station manager (tarfala@natgeo.su.se). Your activities must not disturb reindeer herding, other wildlife and might also not be possible due to safety issues.
  • Check restrictions for the use of chemicals in the field and in the station laboratory with the station manager (tarfala@natgeo.su.se) before planning your work.
  • Please apply via our application system
  • If you are visiting as a group, the group leader (Principal Investigator, PI) applies on behalf of the group.
  • Any known illnesses/allergies/medication need/disabilities/etc. need to be communicated in your application. The station manager will help you evaluate the extended risks this might entail when staying in a remote location such as Tarfala Research Station.  If you apply as PI for a group, and if you - at the time of the application – do not know about the medical conditions of your group members, it is your responsibility to find this out update the station manager as soon as possible. 
  • Any dietary requirements must be included in your application. Tarfala Research Station may not be able to cater to your needs and if so, you need to bring your own food.

Applications will be considered after submission and the review process usually takes one to two weeks, provided that the application contains all requested documents and information. All applications are evaluated for their scientific value, feasibility and relevance (applies to research projects) and for relevance and feasibility (applies to field courses and teaching activities). Your application will be rejected if it does not meet the evaluation criteria, or if the station is fully booked. If your application is rejected because your project is considered not feasible, you may be offered to re-submit a revised project plan after consultation with the station manager (tarfala@natgeo.su.se). We expect the PI of the application to inform the other group members of the outcome.

At Tarfala Research Station we strive to minimise our carbon footprint by choosing the most climate friendly modes of transport to and from the station

Travel to the station is recommend to go via Kiruna and Nikkaluokta. Kiruna is served by train and plane from Stockholm. Nikkaluokta is served by bus from Kiruna. From Nikkaluokta, the station is reached by a 24 km long trail hike (summer), or by skies or snowmobile (winter). Helicopters operate from Nikkaluokta during high season, and from Kiruna during low season.

Planning, booking and paying for transport of personnel and equipment to and from Tarfala are your responsibilities. Please inform the station manager of your travel plans using the e-mail address tarfala@natgeo.su.se, no later than one week before arrival.

Helicopter transport

The station manager can support guests in arranging helicopter transports, which are operated by Kallax Flyg AB from their airbases in Nikkaluokta and Kiruna. Note that the costs associated with helicopter transports are not covered by the station, and will be invoiced to the travelling party. For any helicopter flight, the station reserves the right to fill possible empty seats and/or cargo volume with additional passengers and/or goods that need to be transported between the station and Nikkaluokta. This practice is adopted to reduce the environmental impact of transportation between the station and Nikkaluokta, and does not entitle the main travelling party to a discounted helicopter price.

Useful links

Nikkaluokta Alltransport, Housing and snow mobile transport in/from Nikkaluokta
Helicopter in Nikkaluokta: Kallax Flyg AB 
Láddjujávri boating 
Bus Kiruna to/from Nikkaluokta: Nikkaluoktaexpressen

Regular station fee is 970 SEK (excl. VAT) per diem/person for accommodation, food and station services incl. access to lab and lecture hall.

For Stockholm University employees, the fee is 840 SEK (per excl. VAT) per diem/person.
Students and teachers who stay at the station as members of a curriculum registered course pay a subsides price of 490 SSEK per diem/person.

You will be sent an invoice after your stay, any issues related to invoicing can be discussed with the economy section at Department of Physical Geography, Stockholm University at ekonomi@natgeo.su.se.

  • Cancellation more than four weeks before your planned stay: No charge
  • Cancellation more than two weeks before you planned stay: 50% of the original price
  • Cancellation on shorter notice than two weeks: 100 % of the original price

The station can accommodate at most 28 guests at a time. Accommodation is in shared 2- and 4-bed rooms in houses with running water and toilets.

  • All meals are included – breakfast and dinner are served in the galley, lunch is usually a packed lunch for all heading into the field.
  • The station has two showers in the service building, where also the sauna is located. Tarfalajokk runs by the service house, providing refreshing cold water between sauna rounds.
  • The station has a modern lecture hall seating ca. 30 persons.
  • The station has a mechanical workshop and a simple wet-laboratory. Please contact the station manager if you want to use the workshop and/or the laboratory.
  • Mobile phone reception is unreliable around Tarfala, but usually works relatively well in the valley if you use the operators Telia or Tele2.

Safety information for visitors and staff

Tarfala Resarch Station location in an Arctic and alpine setting far from the nearest road and medical assistance, imposes particular requirements when it comes to safety, both during fieldwork and at the station. We therefore have safety and etiquette rules which shall be followed by everyone at the station, both staff and visitors, so that we together can experience our beautiful work place in a safe and enjoyable way.

Our safety regulations are based on recommendations from the Swedish Consumer Agency (a government agency whose task it is to safeguard consumer interests) and have been produced in collaboration with representative from the Swedish Mountain Rescue.

It is important that you take responsibility for your own safety at the station and you must respect your trip leader and the stations manager’s assessment and safety regulations. The station managers’ assessment builds on experience of the area and the effects that the remoteness of the station can lead to, available medical material/equipment, communication system and equipment, available personal protective equipment, estimation of general human endurance and time needed for the planned activity.

If your application is admitted, the PI needs to fill in an ICE-form for the entire group and send this to tarfala@natgeo.su.se.

The ICE-form includes stating any illnesses/disabilities, allergies/medication/etc. that we need to know about as well as your next of kin. The PI is also responsible for making sure that the entire group reads the Tarfala Research Station safety information and station etiquette and that they all sign the station safety agreement when arriving at the station, please see below.

Please read the safety documents below carefully, but you don`t need to fill in them in advance. You fill in the forms when you are at the station:


Our research

At Tarfala Resarch Station we conduct high quality, internationally recognised scientific research on Swedish alpine and glacial environment. An important component of the research conducted at Tarfala Resarch Station is the continually measurement of Storglaciären’s mass balance, the annual height of Kebnekaise’s southern peak and other monitoring studies. 

Our research at Tarfala


Our history

Erik Woxnerud, Valte schytt and an unknown student at the Swedish Turist Association hut in Tarfala.
Erik Woxnerud, Valte schytt and an unknown student at the Swedish Turist Association hut in Tarfala.

The station is built around a project that involved following up a glacier's mass balance in detail. During the 1930s and 1940s, the then professor of geography Hans W: son Ahlmann worked with the connection between the warming seen in the early 1900s and how the glaciers in the northern hemisphere became smaller and smaller. In the summer of 1945, Valter Schytt carried out a reconnaissance of suitable premises for a long-term mass balance study and the choice was the Large Glacier in the Tarfala Valley next to Kebnekaise.

Our history at Tarfala



The activities are summarized in newsletters published in connection with the field season at the station.

Tarfala aktuellt September 2021 (891 Kb)



Nina Kirchner
Director at Tarfala Resarch Station
E-mail: nina.kirchner@natgeo.su.se 

Per Holmlund
Vice director at Tarfala Resarch Station
E-mail: per.holmlund@natgeo.su.se

Annika Granebeck
Station manager
E-mail: annika.granebeck@su.se

Research Engineer
Jamie Barnett
E-mail: jamie.barnett@natgeo.su.se

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