AG-218 International Bachelor Permafrost Summer Field School (10 ECTS)

Students drilling in permafrost in Adventdalen

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ID:
AG-218
CREDITS:
10 ECTS
START DATE:
8 June 2017
END DATE:
7 July 2017
COURSE PERIOD:
Summer/Autumn semester (June–July) annually.
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
5 ECTS with AG-219
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Ca. 400 pages permafrost textbooks and papers
COURSE COSTS:
None
COURSE CAPACITY MIN/MAX:
10/20 students
EXAMINATION SUPPORT MATERIAL:
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
APPLICATION DEADLINE:
15 February 2017

INSTRUCTORS:

Ole Humlum
Ole Humlum
Adjunct Professor, Physical geography
Graham Gilbert
Graham Gilbert
PhD candidate, Permafrost studies

Course requirements:

60 ECTS within general natural science, of which 30 ECTS within the field of geology/geosciences. Enrolment in a relevant bachelor programme.

Academic content:

Permafrost underlies approximately 25% of the terrestrial part of planet Earth and is virtually ubiquitous in the unglaciated portions of Svalbard. This course draws examples from the Svalbard landscape and literature to introduce the basic principles of permafrost and permafrost research, select elements of permafrost and periglacial geomorphology (including geomorphology of permafrost coasts), design techniques for infrastructure in permafrost environments, and fundamentals of carbon and nutrient cycling in permafrost landscapes. As this is a field school, emphasis is placed on developing transferable research skills through practical exercises and group work in the field and laboratory.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Be familiar with the distribution and thermal state of permafrost in the Arctic region.
  • Be able to analyze ground temperatures, collect frozen sediment cores and quantify and describe ground ice, perform basic geomorphological mapping, and identify the importance of permafrost in the carbon cycle.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • drill and retrieve sediment cores from the upper permafrost,
  • perform cryostratigraphic logging of ground ice,
  • quantify ground ice content in the laboratory,
    instrument boreholes for ground temperature monitoring,
  • retrieve permafrost-related data from online databases,
  • analyze and interpret ground temperatures to identify spatial and temporal variations,
  • identify coastal processes and permafrost and periglacial landforms in the field and from aerial images,

Students will develop a general competence in Arctic fieldwork with a focus on skills required for permafrost and geomorphological investigations.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Be able to conduct fieldwork under summer Arctic conditions and combine different types of data into a joint result.
  • Demonstrate active participation in group work and be able to communicate fieldwork results through oral presentations and scientific writing.
  • Be able to read and analyse scientific literature, identify existing knowledge gaps, and develop a proposal for an independent research project.

Learning activities:

The course extends over a four-week period. In addition, students will attend two-days of compulsory Arctic survival and safety training immediately before the course.

The course is organized as a combination of in-house activities (lectures, exercises, and laboratory work) and field activities (excursions and fieldwork). Students will learn from an international group of active researchers.

Focus during the first week of the course is on developing a basic knowledge of permafrost and ground ice. Weeks two and three will focus on applied topics of permafrost research including infrastructure design, coastal geomorphology, periglacial and permafrost geomorphology, and greenhouse gases from permafrost. The final week is reserved for student report writing.

During the first three weeks students will participate in a two-day field and laboratory exercise where they will obtain and analyze frozen sediment cores from the active layer and upper permafrost and at least six excursions to visit key sites in the Longyearbyen area. In addition, students will work in groups to complete exercises on the analysis of the ground temperatures and climate data and analyze field data for a final oral presentation. Finally, students will work independently during the last week of the course on a written report in the form of a research proposal.

Total lecture hours: 25 hours.
Exercises: ca. 15 hours.
Fieldwork/excursions: 4–6 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Lectures, exercises, fieldwork and data analyses.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

Assessment:

Method
Percentage of final grade
Oral group presentation of fieldwork 33%
Written report (submitted at the end of the course – 8 July) 67%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.
Only the final grade will be reported, based on an average of the grades from the examination parts.

Application deadline: 15 February 2017

Students drilling in permafrost in Adventdalen

AG-218 students drilling in the permafrost in Adventdalen. Photo: Ole Humlum/UNIS.

Student excursion to Sarkofagen outside Longyearbyen.

AG-218 students on excursion to Sarkofagen. 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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