AGF-216 The Stormy Sun and the Northern Lights (5 ECTS)

Students at the EISCAT radar, Svalbard, during the UNIS course AGF-216.

ID:
AGF-216
CREDITS:
5 ECTS
START DATE:
5 February 2018
END DATE:
19 February 2018
COURSE PERIOD:
Spring semester (February, evening course), annually.
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
None
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Book chapters and lecture notes; ca. 150 pages
COURSE COSTS:
None
COURSE CAPACITY MIN/MAX:
5/- students
EXAMINATION SUPPORT MATERIAL:
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
APPLICATION DEADLINE:
Open to all. Students register online.

INSTRUCTORS:

Pål Brekke
Pål Brekke
Adjunct Associate Professor, Solar physics

Course requirements:

This course is open to all enrolled students at UNIS, and to the Longyearbyen public. UNIS students register online for the course (check your UNIS e-mail for more information). Only UNIS students are allowed to sit the exam and to join the field excursions.

Academic content:

The course will give an historic summary of the sun and the northern lights from ancient myths to early science. A brief introduction to the sun, solar activity, solar storms and modern observations of the sun are also included. How do scientists study the aurora today?  The course gives a brief overview of the extensive Norwegian scientific infrastructure used to study the effects from the sun.

Furthermore the course will explain how solar induced disturbances, called space weather, affect our society. Numerous attempts have been made over the years to link various aspects of solar variability to changes in the Earth’s climate. A brief discussion on natural climate change will be included.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Have a basic understanding of the sun, how events on the sun trigger space weather, including the northern lights and the processes in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Understand how solar variability may cause climate change and how space weather affects our technology-based society.

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

  • Describe features of the Sun and the Sun-Earth connection, features of the Northern lights from myths to modern science and of observing techniques to improve our knowledge.
  • Capture pictures of the aurora.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will be able to:

  • Understand and reflect around this part of geophysics and to participate in the discussions related to how the Sun affects our society in many ways.
  • Describe modern observing techniques.
  • Use the competence achieved as a building block for other courses.

Learning activities:

The course extends over two weeks and is centred on the following learning activities:

  1. Classroom lectures providing the students with a solid background about the Sun and the Northern lights as well as observing techniques.
  2. Field trip to the Kjell Henriksen Observatory to learn about observing techniques and how the observatory is operated.
  3. Field trip to SvalSat to better understand how solar and Earth observing satellites operate and how data is distributed to users and space weather centres around the world.

Total lecture hours: 16 hours.
Total fieldwork/excursion: One evening excursion to Kjell Henriksen Observatory, one evening excursion to SvalSat.

Compulsory learning activities:

At least 80% attendance at lectures.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

Assessment:

Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Written exam 3 hours 100%

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

Application deadline: Open to UNIS students and the general public.

UNIS students register online for the course (check your UNIS e-mail for more information).

From the excursion to EISCAT

All photos: Pål Brekke

Students at the EISCAT radar, Svalbard, during the UNIS course AGF-216.

 

Students at the EISCAT radar, Svalbard, during the UNIS course AGF-216.

 

Students at the EISCAT radar, Svalbard, during the UNIS course AGF-216.

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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