Estonian-Swedish Virtual Seminar: Challenges in exploring the Arctic: historical maritime exploration and current realities

Wednesday 05.05.2021 to Wednesday 05.05.2021

Estonian-Swedish Virtual Seminar: Challenges in exploring the Arctic: historical maritime exploration and current realities

In 2020, two significant maritime anniversaries were celebrated in Estonia. First, the discovery of Antarctica by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (1778-1852) on 28 January 1820 and second, the 250th birthday of the great explorer Adam Johann von Krusenstern (1770-1846), born on 19 November 1770. Both explorers were of Baltic German origin born in Estonia.

However, the first half of the 19th century saw other great Baltic German explorations, notably in the Arctic region. Otto von Kotzebue’s (1787-1846) expedition to find the Northwest passage in 1815-1818, Ferdinand von Wrangell’s (1797-1870) expedition in 1820-1824 to the coast of Northeast Siberia to find a possible connection between Asia and North America, as well as Friedrich Benjamin von Lütke’s (1797-1882) Novaya Zemlya expedition in 1821-1824 to chart Russia’s coast in the Barents Sea all played a significant role in the geographical sciences and cartography.

Currently, Estonia is applying for observer status at the pre-eminent forum dedicated to international cooperation in the Arctic – the Arctic Council. Estonia as a close neighbour of the Arctic is keen to participate in guaranteeing the sustainable development of the Arctic – a common commitment to a region rapidly transformed by climate change.

For these reasons, the Estonian Embassy in Stockholm and the Estonian Maritime Museum will hold a hybrid seminar on the topic of the Arctic. We intend to look at historical events and current developments in the Arctic region, e.g. climate change, and security together by asking how past developments have influenced the present. The seminar emphasises a specific chapter of the close cultural and scientific cooperation of the two countries – celebrating a century of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Sweden.


  • 13:00   Opening of the seminar

Mr Margus Kolga, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Estonia to the Kingdom of Sweden

Mr Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu)

  • 13:20   Historical perspective of discoveries and research in the Arctic region

Prof. Dr.a.D. Hain Rebas

The general 19th century exploratory background: Who? Where? Why?

  • 13:30   Mr Urmas Dresen, Director of the Estonian Maritime Museum

Estonian seamen on the Arctic Ocean and Siberian rivers in the second half of the 19th century

  • 13:45   Dr Feliks Gornischeff, Researcher at the Estonian Maritime Museum

Adam Johann von Krusenstern’s legacy in the research of the northern polar regions

  • 14:00 Lt Col (ret.) Otto von Krusenstierna, Chairman of the Swedish Family von Krusenstierna Association

Von Krusenstierna family in Sweden and the von Krusenstierna Family Archives in the Kalmar Museum

  • 14:15   Dr Stefan Lundblad, Director of the Swedish Army Museum

Swedish maritime and polar exploration in the 19th century

  • 14:30   Q&A
  • 14:40   Challenges in exploring the Arctic: current realities

Dr Katarina Gårdfeldt, Director-General of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat

Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and a short overview of current polar research programs in Sweden

  • 14:55  Ms Maris Pruuli, Boatswain, of S/Y Admiral Bellingshausen

Antarctica 200 and The Arctic – expeditions popularising the sensitive topics of climate change, pollution and maritime safety

  • 15:10   Reti Ranniku, Doctoral student at the University of Tartu

The Role of Arctic in Climate Change Research – Past, Present and Future

  • 15:20   Dr Hele Kiimann, Researcher at Uppsala University; Head of Research at the Estonian Maritime Museum

Arctic field research stations and knowledge production – from global to local environmental monitoring and assessment

  • 15:30   Ms Katrin Savomägi, CEO of the Estonian Polar Club

Polar activities at the Estonian Maritime Museum: Estonian polar researchers in the past, present and future 

  • 15:45   Q&A, conclusions
  • 16:00   End of the seminar
Wednesday 05.05.2021 to Wednesday 05.05.2021