The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) is the world’s northernmost higher education institution, located in Longyearbyen at 78º N. We provide research-based education of the next generation of Arctic experts in biology, geology, geophysics and technology.

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The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)

UNIS is the world’s northernmost higher education institution, located in Longyearbyen, at the High Arctic archipelago of Svalbard (78º N). UNIS offers high quality courses at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level in Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology, Arctic Geophysics and Arctic Technology.
The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)Sep 12, 2020 @ 9:00am
ROCK SOLID: KEEPING RECORD OF THE SVALBARD CLIMATE HISTORY
Today is the Geology Day in Norway – and this year’s theme is “Climate and geology through the ages”. Once there was a world where the high Arctic was covered by forests and blossoming vegetation – even though there were 4 months of darkness here just as today. A world where the global climate was much warmer than humankind ever experienced. During that period, the coal layers around in Svalbard were deposited at 80 ˚N as peat. This “paleo-peat” and related muddy seafloor deposits are hiding a unique and detailed climate archive which we at UNIS will help to decipher. Maybe this can help us to foresee how the future in the Arctic will look like?
UNIS has joined forces with the coal-mining company SNSK to safeguard physical and digital material collected during various geological campaigns in Svalbard in the “Svalbard Rock Vault” funded by the Svalbard Science Forum of the Norwegian Research Council. The work includes cataloguing the existing physical drill core material in Longyearbyen and Svea. Some of the drill cores include one of the most detailed records of the “PETM”, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, a global warming phase which often is compared with the global warming we experience today.
Another project is “Coal - the ice core of the warm past: using the natural coal archive on Svalbard to initiate a flagship for palaeoclimate research”. UNIS scientists Maria Jensen and Malte Jochmann lead the project aiming to obtain high resolution palaeoclimatic records from coal. Similar to ice cores, the layers of coal – originally peat – record different climatic events with high resolution. Unique samples have been collected from the Lunckefjellet and Svea Nord mines before they were closed. The samples will be archived to contribute to future palaeoclimate research at UNIS. Samples have also been obtained from Mine 7, and these are presently used for analysis and methods development. This project is aimed to transfer competence from coal laboratories to UNIS and shows the scientific potential in the coal-seams on Svalbard.
Happy Geology Day!
Svalbard Science Forum Norges forskningsråd

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