AG-204 The Physical Geography of Svalbard (15 ECTS)

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ID:
AG-204
CREDITS:
15 ECTS
START DATE:
9 January 2017
END DATE:
1 June 2017
COURSE PERIOD:
Spring semester (January–June), annually.
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
None
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Curriculum / reading list: Ca. 900 pages
COURSE COSTS:
From none to ca. NOK 1000 (NOK 200 per overnight stay)
COURSE CAPACITY MIN/MAX:
10/20 students
EXAMINATION SUPPORT MATERIAL:
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
APPLICATION DEADLINE:
15 October 2016

INSTRUCTORS:

Alexander Prokop. Photo: UNIS
Alexander Prokop
Associate Professor, Snow science

Course requirements:

60 ECTS within general natural science, of which 30 ECTS within the field of geology/geosciences. The applicant must be enrolled in a programme at Bachelor level, or document that the courses are approved into the applicant’s current study programme.

Academic content:

Glaciers cover about 60% of the area of Svalbard, while the rest is underlain by continuous permafrost. In this geographical setting, the course introduces the most important meteorological, glaciological, geomorphological and hydrological processes in Svalbard.

The climatic conditions in Svalbard, the energy exchange at the ground surface, the ground thermal regime and the availability of water will be emphasized as essential factors controlling the distribution of glaciers, permafrost and periglacial landforms. Glacier mass balance, thermal structure and geomorphic activity of Svalbard glaciers will be covered, with emphasis on the interaction between glaciers and permafrost.

There will also be a discussion of geomorphological processes such as glacial erosion, glacial deposition, frost weathering, mass movement, permafrost deformation, and frost heave and contraction in connection with freezing and thawing. Also hydrological processes such as snow cover formation and ablation, surface and subsurface drainage of water, river flow and sediment transport will be discussed.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students will have:

Broad knowledge of key topics, theories, processes, tools and methods within the physical geography of Svalbard. Specific knowledge of the linkages between climate, meteorology, geomorphology, hydrology, and ground and glacier ice thermal regimes in permafrost and glacier regions in Svalbard.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students will have:

Training in field methods, mapping techniques and methods of data interpretation including group work. Practical understanding of a variety of glaciological, geomorphological and hydrological processes through field excursions.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

Be able to apply academic knowledge and relevant results of research to practical and theoretical problems, and be able to reflect upon one’s own academic practice and adjust it under supervision. Be able to communicate important academic matters both in writing and orally. Be able to exchange opinions with others with a background in the field.

Learning activities:

The course extends over a full semester. Initially, students attend one week of compulsory Arctic survival and safety training (AS-101).

The course is built upon in-house activities such as lectures, seminars and exercises, as well as field activities, such as excursions and individual fieldwork, to obtain personal experience in the High-Arctic environment. These activities will address different mapping techniques, investigations on snow stratigraphy, and the study of various landforms. In addition, students will receive training in carrying out a small research project by preparing a term project report based on personal fieldwork.

Total lecture hours: 45 hours.
Total exercise hours:
35 hours.
Fieldwork:
Minimum 4 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Fieldwork, exercises, exercise work presentations.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

Assessment:

Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
 Written term project (including presentation) 40%
 Written exam  3 hours 60%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
Each assessment is graded, and subsequently combined into a single grade. Partial grades for each assessment will be available.

Application deadline: 15 October 2016

Students studying a mountain

AG-204 excursion to Tellbreen. Photo: Ole Humlum/UNIS.

Fieldwork in Todalen

AG-204 students performing pit analysis in Todalen. Photo: Ole Humlum/UNIS.

CONTACT INFO

The University Centre in Svalbard
Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
Fax: +47 79 02 33 01
E-mail: post@unis.no / webmaster@unis.no
Address: P.O. Box 156 N-9171 Longyearbyen
Org. no. 985 204 454

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