The Day of Russian Science

Photo by Dmitry Shchekin

Each year on February 8 the Russian academic community celebrates its professional holiday – the day of Russian Science.  The holiday was established in 1999 by a presidential decree. It marks the date of the foundation of the Russian Academy of Sciences by order of the Emperor Peter I on February 8 1724.

There are many different branches of science in the world today. The classification of science is an important and difficult task causing a huge controversy among scientists. In brief, we usually divide science into natural, technical, social, anthropological sciences and humanities.

Besides geography, the Russian Geographical Society has always paid a special attention to such science as phenology.

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Фото: Вадим Поляков

Phenology is a system of knowledge and data about periodic plant and animal life cycle events, their dates and reasons defining the time frame for these events.  Emergence of leaves and leaf fall, emergence of flowers on trees and bushes, migration of birds and emergence of mushrooms, first snow and last frost and other seasonal biological phenomena are phenological phases that are studied. In fact, all of us are phenologists because wishing or not we observe all these biological phenomena all the year round. 

Systematic phenological observations have been taken in Russia for more than 200 years already. Since ancient times this system of knowledge has helped people to forecast the change of weather, plan planting and harvesting time. In 1848, in Eastern Europe for the first time the Russian Geographical Society developed a program for amateur naturalists. 12 thousand of such programs were spread all over our country. In 1938 the integrated practice and the improved program of observation were published and became the first guide-book for volunteers of the phenological network.

Today the Russian Geographical Society is working to reactivate the phenological network. Since 2015, everyone interested may leave his or her observation results on the phenological portal of the society.

Records of long-term phenological observations is the only large-scale and reliable source of information about wildlife response to climate change, changes in the nature of Russian regions and the country on the whole. The interest in phenological materials is enormous in Europe and in the whole world.  But there is no country with such unique wild nature observation data like Russia. Nature enthusiasts have created unique records still waiting for their researchers.