This article is a review of the foundation (in 1838) and later developments of the Helsinki (Finland) magnetic and meteorological observatory, today the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). The main focus of the study is in the early history of the FMI up to the beginning of the 20th century.
The first director of the observatory was Physics Professor Johan Jakob Nervander (1805–1848). He was a famous person of the Finnish scientific, academic and cultural community in the early decades of the 19th century.
Finland was an autonomously part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917, but the observatory remained organizationally under the University of Helsinki, independent of Russian scientific institutions, and funded by the Finnish Government. Throughout the late-19th century the eteorological Institute was responsible of nationwide meteorological, hydrological and marine observations and research. The observatory was transferred to the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters under the name the Central Meteorological Institute in The focus of the work carried out in the Institute was changed gradually towards meteorology. Magnetic measurements were still continued but in a lower level of importance.
The culmination of Finnish geophysical achievements in the 19th century was the participation to the International Polar Year programme in 1882–1883 by setting up a full-scale meteorological and magnetic observatory in Sodankylä, Lapland.
Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland