AG-826 Quaternary Glacial and Climate History of the Arctic (10 ECTS)

In front of Nordenskiöldbreen Svalbard

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ID:
AG-826
CREDITS:
10 ECTS
START DATE:
25 September 2017
END DATE:
26 October 2017
COURSE PERIOD:
Autumn semester (September–October), every second year.
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
10 ECTS overlap with AG-326
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Articles, book chapters: Ca. 1000 pages
COURSE COSTS:
Fieldwork, NOK 600 (3 nights x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
COURSE CAPACITY MIN/MAX:
13/25 students (AG-326/826 in total)
EXAMINATION SUPPORT MATERIAL:
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
APPLICATION DEADLINE:
15 April 2017

INSTRUCTORS:

Olafur Ingolfsson
Ólafur Ingólfsson
Adjunct Professor, Quaternary Geology

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a PhD programme in Quaternary geology, glacial geology, physical geography or marine geology.

Academic content:

The course will give insight into the development of the Arctic through the Quaternary with emphasis on the interaction and feedbacks between climate developments, glaciers and the oceans through glacials and interglacials. This will be done through literature studies, state-of-the-art lectures, student seminars and discussions of the glacial histories of Svalbard-Barents Sea, Greenland, Iceland, Arctic Canada, Alaska, Northern Russia and Siberia. The course focuses on terrestrial records although marine and ice core records will also be discussed in order to highlight environmental changes around the Arctic basin and to discuss causes for climatic changes and feedback processes.

The preconditions of correlating different Quaternary records are robust geochronologies, and recent developments in dating techniques like Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL), cosmogenic nuclide exposure and radiocarbon dating will be highlighted in case studies. Recent advances in ice-sheet modelling  and studies of palaeo-ice dynamics and landscape development in the Arctic will also be highlighted. The concept of distinctive ice dynamics and glacier regimes reflected in landscapes based on landform associations interrelated to cold-based non-erosive glacier ice and fast flowing ice streams will be studied.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • Broad overview of large-scale Late Quaternary glacial and climatic changes in the Arctic, as well as understanding of causal links in the build-up and decay of high-latitude large ice sheets.
  • Specific knowledge of the Last Glacial Maximum ice sheets and their subsequent deglaciation.
  • Good understanding of circum-Arctic Holocene glacial and environmental changes.
  • Thorough understanding of natural palaeoclimatic variations and glacial history in the Arctic, how ice sheet configurations have been reconstructed in various Arctic key regions, as well as an awareness of major challenges in Arctic palaeoglaciacial and palaeoclimatic research.
  • In-depth understanding of history of concepts and paradigm shifts regarding the glacial and climate history of the Arctic.
  • Advanced knowledge of certain “hot” themes (theme will vary between individual years), like “Little Ice Age in the Arctic“, “Fingerprints of the Anthropocene in the Arctic”, “Cronological challenges in the Arctic”, “modelling Arctic ice sheets”, etc.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • Skills in penetrating, critically assessing and analysing large datasets that are the basis of important syntheses on development of the Arctic glacial and climate systems through time.
  • Skills in communicating extensive works and mastering the terminology of Quaternary and palaeoclimate research.
  • Skills in formulating and outlining outstanding research questions.
  • Skills in presenting complex overviews and taking lead in group discussions on outstanding questions concerning regional Quaternary palaeoenvironmental developments.
  • Skills in challenging established knowledge and paradigms.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Be able to identify new relevant research questions, critically discuss and assess glacial and palaeoclimatic reconstructions from literature and develop alternative ideas.
  • Be well acquainted with current conceptual thinking in Quaternary geology.
  • Be able to debate existing reconstructions of Arctic glacier and palaeoclimate development, and identify areas where more research is needed.
  • Be able to communicate important research questions and themes, both orally and in writing, at international standards.
  • Be able to take initiatives and exercise academic leadership.

Learning activities:

The course extends over 4 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AG-326.

The course will have a theoretical part with lectures, literature studies and discussion seminars, and up to four excursion days, depending on weather conditions. The excursion will give the students an opportunity to experience glacial sediments, stratigraphies and morphologies.

Total lecture hours: 40 hours.
Total seminar hours: 25 hours.
Excursion: 1–4 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Active participation in seminar presentations, lectures and excursion.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

Assessment:

Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Written take-home exam  48 hours 100%

All assessments must be passed in order to pass the course.

 

Application deadline: 15 April 2017

In front of Nordenskiöldbreen Svalbard

AG-326/826 students studying glacier erosion. Photo: Anne Hormes/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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