AG-340 Arctic Glaciers and Melt Season Dynamics (10 ECTS)

AG-340 excursion. Photo: Aga Nowak/UNIS.

Course schedule

ID:
AG-340
CREDITS:
10 ECTS
START DATE:
August 8, 2019
END DATE:
September 11, 2019
COURSE PERIOD:
Autumn semester (August–September), every second year. Next course: 2019
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
5 ECTS with AG-325/825
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Book chapters plus specific articles and reports from Svalbard; ca. 100 pages.
COURSE COSTS:
Fieldwork, NOK 800 (4 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
COURSE CAPACITY MIN/MAX:
10/20 students
EXAMINATION SUPPORT MATERIAL:
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
APPLICATION DEADLINE:
February 15, 2019

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme. Students should have general knowledge about glaciology and the physical geography, like AG-204 or similar.

Academic content:

Glacier mass balance and climate in Svalbard; Glacier hydrology; Runoff, sediment and solute transfer by glacial meltwater; Arctic glacier/permafrost thermal regimes; Ice dynamics, including calving processes and surging; Biogeochemical processes and glacier ecology.

Learning outcomes:

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students will have knowledge of:

  • The current mass balance status of Arctic glaciers and ice caps in Svalbard.
  • The thermal conditions that distinguish Arctic glaciers from their lower latitude counterparts and greatly influence process dynamics.
  • The dynamics of glaciological, hydrological and biogeochemical processes that operate during the Arctic summer.
  • The interactions between physical, chemical and biological processes within glaciers.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students will have skills in:

  • General fieldwork skills, including observational and recording skills in an Arctic outdoor environment.
  • Specific fieldwork techniques, including hydrological and glacier mass balance monitoring, ground penetrating radar, dye tracing and water/sediment sampling.
  • Analytical techniques, including laboratory analysis of glacial meltwaters, data processing and melt modelling.
  • Expeditionary-style fieldwork logistics for research in the Arctic.

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

  • Organisational skills for effective and successful recording of field observations.
  • Design and implementation of research tasks as part of a team.
  • Safe implementation of outdoor research in a sometimes extreme environment.

Learning activities:

This course extends over 5 weeks, including compulsory safety training. Effective learning is achieved through:

  • Day trips to understand Svalbard landscape, key features of Svalbard glaciers and their forefields.
  • A 4-day research cruise: demonstrating how the integration of surface energy balance, dye tracing, ground penetrating radar and proglacial water monitoring can be used to understand glacier hydrology from a whole-system perspective.
  • At least one day trip by boat to areas not visited as part of the cruise and local trips to deepen the understanding and develop appreciation for heterogeneity of the Arctic environment.
  • Seminars, workshops and laboratory classes are run to support the fieldwork. Students are expected to collect and archive a quality-controlled, communal data resource to support all field reports. Guidance is therefore given for data processing and laboratory techniques, among others.
  • A course essay and a comprehensive written field report based on the knowledge and data acquired through the course.

Total lecture hours: 16 hours.
Seminars: 12 hours (workshops with guest lecturers and fieldwork debriefings).
Laboratory classes: 11 hours (1 hour developing analytical skills, 4 hours geochemistry, 2 hours melt modelling, 2 hours radar data processing).
Fieldwork: Day trips and a 4-day research cruise.

Compulsory learning activities:

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

Assessment:

Method Length
Percentage of final grade
Course essay 2000 words 40%
Field report 2500 words 60%

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.

See course blog

Application deadline: 15 February 2019

AG-340 fieldwork in August 2016. Photo: Aga Novak/UNIS

AG-340 fieldwork. Photo: Aga Nowak/UNIS.

AG-340 students on excursion in Grønfjorden. Photo: Sebastian Sikora/UNIS.

AG-340 students on excursion in Grønfjorden. Photo: Sebastian Sikora/UNIS.

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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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