AB-830 Ecosystems in Ice Covered Waters (10 ECTS)

Preparing for light measurements. Photo: Janne Søreide/UNIS

Spring semester (April–May), every second year. Next course: 2021
10 ECTS with AB-330
Letter grade (A through F)
Articles and book chapters
Fieldwork, NOK 1600 (8 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students (AB-330/830 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
October 15, 2020


Janne Søreide
Janne Søreide
Associate Professor, Arctic Marine Biology - Ecology

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant PhD programme. Students with relevant PhD theses will be given preference.

Academic content:

This field-based course gives students both theoretical and hands-on knowledge on Arctic sea ice ecosystems. The course aims to give an overview of current knowledge and methodology within sea ice biology and ecology, focusing on the lower trophic levels. This will give the students the necessary background to sample, analyse and discuss their own data collected during a week-long field excursion to ice-covered fjords. Introduction to physical properties of light, snow, sea ice and hydrography will also be given, to better understand the physical constraints and drivers for structuring Arctic sea ice communities. Mechanisms regulating the timing of key biological processes such as the ice algal and phytoplankton blooms and secondary production will be emphasized as well as sea ice biodiversity, and the trophic coupling and carbon flux between sea ice (=sympagic), pelagic and benthic ecosystems.

In 2019, landfast sea ice ecosystems in western and eastern Spitsbergen will be studied and run in parallel with ongoing research projects on sea ice ecosystems. Transportation will be conducted using snowmobiles. Those without a driving license will travel as passengers. Teachers: Janne E. Søreide (UNIS, course responsible), Rolf Gradinger (leader of Size: Centre of Seasonal Marginal Ice Zone programme at UiT) and Malin Daase (Expert on Arctic zooplankton, UiT the Arctic University of Norway).

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • Knowledge on species diversity in sea ice dominated ecosystems in the Arctic.
  • In-depth understanding of which abiotic and biotic drivers that structure these unique ecosystems, and the linkages between the sea ice (sympagic), pelagic and benthic compartments.
  • Extensive knowledge on important ecological processes in sea ice ecosystems (colonization, timing of algal blooms, succession, and trophic interactions), and general knowledge on physical properties of light, snow, sea ice (formation, age, structure etc.) and hydrography.

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • Taxonomic knowledge on common protists, meiofauna and meso- and macrofauna living within and in close association with sea ice.
  • Practical training in operating various state-of-the art field-devices for collecting physical and biological data in sea ice covered environments.
  • Competence to plan and carry out field studies under sometimes challenging Arctic conditions.
  • Improved written and oral skills based on assignments given during the course (see below).

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • Experience in safety standards related to work in harsh Arctic environments.
  • Competence in design and implementation of research tasks as part of a team, and to communicate (orally and written) their research results to the scientific community.
  • Team work experience, including leading and organizing group work.
  • Experience in problem solving.

Learning activities:

The course extends 7 weeks, including Easter break, and is run in combination with AB-330.

The course will start with a theoretical introduction and safety training (5–9 days) followed by extensive sampling activities on sea ice during a week-long field excursion. The samples will be analysed partly in field and partly back at UNIS in the laboratory. The data produced will provide the basis for the written project report and poster presentation.

Total lecture hours: 20 hours.
Laboratory exercises / seminars: 25 hours.
Excursion: Ca. 8 days.
Data analysis and presentations: 10 hours.

Compulsory learning activities:

Field excursions, laboratory work.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Written technical report 20%
Written scientific report 40%
Written exam  3 hours 40%

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 2020

Slideshow from fieldwork in Svea


Work camp on sea ice in Van Mijenfjorden during AB-330/830 fieldwork. Photo: Janne Søreide/UNIS

Work camp on sea ice in Van Mijenfjorden during AB-330/830 fieldwork. Photo: Janne Søreide/UNIS

Ice core with layer of brown ice algae. Photo: Janne Søreide/UNIS

Ice core with layer of brown ice algae. Photo: Janne Søreide/UNIS























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