AGF-213 Polar Meteorology and Climate (15 ECTS)

Students checking wind speed in Adventdalen

Autumn semester (August–December), annually. Cancelled in 2020.
Letter grade (A through F)
Book chapters, articles, compendia; ca. 350 pages
Fieldwork, NOK 800 (4 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
8/16 students
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue. Non-programmable calculator.
April 15, 2020


Marius Jonassen. Photo: UNIS
Marius Jonassen
Associate professor, meteorology

Course requirements:

60 ECTS in mathematics and physics or a related discipline. The applicant must be enrolled in a programme at Bachelor level, or document that the courses are approved into the applicant’s current study programme. It is also recommended that students have a minimum basic knowledge of meteorology equivalent to “Essentials of Meteorology, An Invitation to the Atmosphere” by C. Donald Ahrens (2011).

The course should be combined with AGF-214 Polar Ocean Climate (15 ECTS) and the courses are designed to complement each other.

Academic content:

The course offers an introduction and overview of weather and climate processes that are typical for polar regions, with examples focusing on local conditions in the European Arctic and around Svalbard.

The topics covered include small and local scale meteorology; boundary layer meteorology; turbulence; local wind phenomena such as katabatic and mountain winds; dynamic meteorology; radiation and remote sensing; atmospheric chemistry; numerical modelling and weather forecasting; climate processes and climate change. Emphasis will be on the differences between the polar atmosphere and the atmosphere at mid-latitudes and on understanding the physical processes involved. The topics will be discussed in relation to climate history, current physical conditions, and future climate change.

The field component of the course provides an introduction to a number of meteorological observational techniques. Special attention will be paid to exchange processes between the atmosphere and diverse surfaces, local meteorological processes typical of polar regions and the challenges of weather forecasting in the Arctic.

The course runs in parallel with AGF-214 Polar Ocean Climate, and the two courses are designed to complement each other.


Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • describe important physical, chemical and dynamical meteorological and climate processes in the polar regions
  • understand how these processes influence local weather and climate in Svalbard
  • describe challenges in observing and modelling these processes
  • master terminology, theories and observational techniques used in polar meteorology and climate
  • recognise the role of polar climate processes in shaping the global climate.

Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • demonstrate practical skills in handling scientific meteorological instruments such as automatic weather stations, weather balloons and radiometers
  • process and analyse meteorological data collected during fieldwork using software such as MATLAB
  • produce and review scientific reports based on data collected during fieldwork
  • relate their own field observations to knowledge achieved through lectures and literature in polar meteorology.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students can:

  • conduct small, field-based meteorological projects on land
  • efficiently administer workload and share information within a group
  • communicate scientific results, both in writing and orally, from field reports and relate them to previous studies
  • critically read, evaluate and debate scientific literature

Learning activities:

The course extends over a full semester. Initially, students attend two days of compulsory Arctic survival and safety training.

The course is centred on the following learning activities:

  • classroom lectures providing the students with a solid background in themes and phenomena typical for the weather and climate in polar areas,
  • seminars and exercise classes where students work on exercises relevant to the topics covered in the classroom lectures,
  • four day long fieldwork addressing a selection of the phenomena covered in the lectures with a main focus on boundary layer meteorology. The students take an active part in the fieldwork and get hands-on experience with various meteorological instrumentation and observational techniques typically used in polar boundary layer research. The fieldwork takes place at Kapp Linné / Isfjord Radio, which is an excellent site for observing phenomena typical for the polar boundary layer.
  • The fieldwork is followed up by data analysis and report writing by the students. During the report writing, the students receive feedback and guidance from the course responsible(s) and towards the end of the course the students present their final report results. There will also be presentations by the students of scientific articles.

Total lecture hours: 65 hours.
Total seminar hours: 20 hours.
Fieldwork: 4 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Fieldwork, presentation of one scientific article.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Written fieldwork report 30%
Written exam 4 hours 70%

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 April 2020

Students logging data in Adventdalen

AGF-213 students logging data in Adventdalen. Photo: Tor de Lange/UNIS.

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The University Centre in Svalbard
Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
Fax: +47 79 02 33 01
E-mail: /
Address: P.O. Box 156 N-9171 Longyearbyen
Org. no. 985 204 454


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