AGF-311 Air-Ice-Sea Interaction II (10 ECTS)

CTD measurements outside Kapp Linné, Isfjorden, Svalbard

October 24, 2022
December 2, 2022
Autumn semester (October–December), every second year
10 ECTS with AGF-811
Letter grade (A through F)
Mostly articles in science journals, ca. 350 pages
Fieldwork, NOK 1000–1400 (5–7 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students (AGF-311/811 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue
April 15, 2022


Lars Henrik Smedsrud
Lars Henrik Smedsrud
Adjunct Professor, Physical Oceanography

UNIS contact person: Frank Nilsen

Required previous knowledge/specific course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme. Strong mathematical background, knowledge in Air-Sea-Ice interaction corresponding to AGF-211 Air-Ice-Sea Interaction I and being able to analyse and present data in e.g. Matlab. Experience with numerical modelling is an advantage.

Academic content:

The course describes processes involved in air-sea exchange of heat and momentum at high latitudes. This includes deep convection and mechanisms for breaking down vertical stratification in the ocean. Production of dense water by cooling or ice freezing at the surface is studied with examples from case studies in the Svalbard area. Surface buoyancy fluxes and wind-stirring are described as agents for eroding the base of the mixed layer, whereas tides and internal waves interacting with topography, double diffusion and thermobaricity are considered in the discussion of deep mixing.

Standard oceanographic and boundary layer observations are supplemented with detailed measurements of turbulence structure and turbulent fluxes in weakly stratified fluid layers. The results of the analyzed field observations will be compared with numeric models, which will be set up for the actual region. Model experiments will be conducted with coupled models, including sea ice. The fieldwork will be conducted by an ice-going research vessel and observations will be carried out above, under and on top of the sea ice.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will have a detailed knowledge of:

  • processes controlling the sea ice cover in the Marginal Ice Zone (air-ocean)
  • thermodynamic and mechanical ice growth
  • boundary layer theories

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • be able to analyse and calculate thermodynamic- and mechanical ice growth in the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ)
  • be able to analyse data collected during air-ice-sea campaigns
  • be able to classify boundary layers above and below sea ice and apply turbulence theory in order to calculate the turbulent heat- and salt fluxes in the water column
  • have acquired skills in developing a model for sea ice growth and water mass transformation and how to calibrate the model using field data.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • be familiar with Arctic marine fieldwork operations
  • be able to handle oceanographic instruments in the field, processing the data, writing a scientific report and presenting the results in public
  • gain experience in working as part of a small group project
  • be able to discuss and defend the scientific results from individual field reports.

Learning activities:

The course extends over ca 6 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AGF-811.

The effective learning of air-ice-sea interaction II has three essential components:

  1. Building a knowledge base through classroom lectures, seminars, and laboratory experiments.
  2. Fieldwork, where the students engage in research case studies using their knowledge base and theoretical models in the real world. Students are supervised in using different instruments and measuring techniques, and work in cooperative learning groups.
  3. Writing reports, where the analysis of data is tested against theoretical model, and vice versa. Reports are written under supervision, where feedback and formative / peer assessments are given.

The final examination is oral where we focus on the understanding of the physical processes studied in the course. The students are allowed to defend their report and discuss it in a larger context, connecting it to other students’ reports as well as theory.

Total lecture hours: 30 hours.
Total seminar hours: 10 hours.
Cruise: 5–7 days.

Compulsory learning activities:

Fieldwork, field report and presentation of field report.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Percentage of final grade
Oral exam 100%

Application deadline: 15 April 2022

Tests on the sea ice in the Fram Strait in October 2012

AGF-311/811 students and staff performing tests on the sea ice in the Fram Strait in October. (Photo: Svavar Jónatansson/© Extreme Ice Survey).

Checking data

AGF-311/811 students checking out the CTD measurements on the course cruise. Photo: Eva Therese Jenssen/UNIS.

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


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