AGF-850 The Arctic Atmospheric Boundary Layer and Local Climate Processes (10 ECTS)

Weather balloon in dark season

January 27, 2022
March 11, 2022
Spring semester (January–March), every second year.
10 ECTS with AGF-350
Letter grade (A through F)
Book chapters, articles, compendia; ca. 360 pages
10/20 students (AGF-350/850 in total)
October 15, 2023


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

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant PhD programme. Students should have general knowledge about meteorology, like AGF-213 Polar Meteorology and Climate or similar.

Academic content:

Weather forecasts in the Arctic are often unreliable, and the global climate models show a large uncertainty in scenarios. One of the reasons is that processes in the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer often are poorly implemented in these kinds of models. The course covers themes relevant for the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer including theory of the boundary layer with special emphasis on the stable boundary layer.

Amongst the covered topics are also boundary layer turbulence and topographically induced phenomena such as drainage flow, channelling effects and barrier flows. Air-sea-ice interactions are central to the Arctic climate and will be covered and related to e.g., heat fluxes over leads and polynyas. The course will also include lessons on measurement techniques, numerical modelling and data analysis relevant for the mentioned topics.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • have an advanced knowledge of terminology, theories and observational techniques covering physical processes and phenomena typical of the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer
  • have the ability to describe and identify the challenges of taking meteorological measurements and applying numerical models in the Arctic and knowledge of how the Arctic boundary layer differs from that at lower latitudes.

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • have the ability to measure and analyse atmospheric data from the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer and be able to communicate these data by written and oral means.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • based on the knowledge and skills obtained during the course, be able to discuss and evaluate data from phenomena typical for the Arctic atmospheric boundary layer
  • based on training received and experience gained during the fieldwork, be able to facilitate group work in the field.

Learning activities:

The course extends over ca 6 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AGF-350.

The course is centred on the following types of learning activities:

  • classroom lectures covering background theory and concepts related to phenomena that are typical for the Arctic boundary layer,
  • computer exercises relevant and instructive for understanding the themes and phenomena introduced in the classroom lectures,
  • seminars covering the observational and numerical tools that will be used during the course. These seminars will include hands-on experience with the instruments and an introduction to data analysis of the datasets from the observations and numerical simulations performed during the course,
  • fieldwork addressing a selection of the phenomena introduced in points 1) and 2) using the instrumentation introduced in point 3). With guidance from the lecturers, the students will take an active part in both the planning and the execution of the fieldwork,
  • presentations by the students after each day of fieldwork covering preliminary results and a final presentation by the students of reports that will be written in groups.

Total lecture hours: 35 hours.
Total seminar hours: 10 hours.
Fieldwork and computer exercises: 1 week.

Compulsory learning activities:

Fieldwork, oral presentation of field report, computer exercises and presentation of PhD thesis project.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Percentage of final grade
Written report of a quality suitable for submission to a scientific journal 30%
Oral exam 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 October 2023


Weather instrument on model plane in dark season

AGF-350/850 fieldwork in February. Photo: Marius Jonassen/UNIS.

Weather ballon in dark season

AGF-350/850 fieldwork in February. Photo: Marius Jonassen/UNIS.

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Telephone: +47 79 02 33 00
Student inquiries:
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Address: P.O. Box 156 N-9171 Longyearbyen
Org. no. 985 204 454


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