AS-301 Risk Assessment of Arctic Natural Hazards (10 ECTS)

Snowmobile excursion in Svalbard, March 2012. Photo: Jacob Abermann/UNIS

How to apply

ID:
AS-301
CREDITS:
10 ECTS
START DATE:
4 June 2018
END DATE:
6 July 2018
COURSE PERIOD:
Autumn semester (June–July). Pilot course in 2018.
LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION AND EXAMINATION:
English
CREDIT REDUCTION/OVERLAP:
None
GRADE:
Letter grade (A through F)
COURSE MATERIAL:
Published articles, book chapters, online material, software packages; approximately 500 pages.
COURSE COSTS:
Fieldwork, NOK 600 (3 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:
15 February 2018

UNIS contact person: Mads Forchhammer

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant master programme in natural sciences, environmental sciences, or technology.

Academic content:

This course appreciates the multidisciplinary and multifaceted nature of natural hazards in Arctic environments, with focus on Svalbard. In a rapidly changing Arctic that experiences increased population and touristic pressures, risk assessment of natural hazards threatening people’s lives and key infrastructure becomes essential.

A theoretical foundation for quantitative risk assessment, together with an introduction to the geo-, cryo-, hydro-, and biosphere of the Arctic, precedes four applied modules:

  1. Weather hazards:
    Basic factors characterizing the weather in the Arctic and their impacts on people and infrastructure present in the area will be introduced and discussed; focusing on phenomena like strong winds, low temperatures, and icing on e.g. aircraft, ships and infrastructure. Acquisition and application of weather data for risk assessment will be taught.
  2. Slope hazards: Basic process-controlling factors and their vulnerability to climate change are introduced for Arctic slope processes (snow avalanches, landslides, rockslides). Basic data acquisition methods on analyzing the underlying geophysical processes are applied. Finally, forecasting, prevention, and mitigation measures are discussed and tested.
  3. Biohazards: Sustainable management of Arctic environmental issues is discussed. The natural behavior of polar bears and other large marine mammals is described and discussed in the light of human-animal interaction and de-escalation. The risk of diseases from parasites is demonstrated and best practice routines are introduced.
  4. Cryohazards: Basic process-controlling factors and their vulnerability to climate change are introduced focusing on sea ice dynamics, glacier mass balance and -dynamics, iceberg production, and permafrost evolution. Basic data acquisition methods for analyzing the underlying geophysical processes are applied and tested. Sea ice dynamics and iceberg production are related to safe Arctic shipping.

Finally, gained analytical knowledge and process understanding is combined to a practical risk assessment exercise.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Describe and explain the basic structure and processes that operate within the Arctic geosphere, cryosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere.
  • Understand what the major Arctic hazards are and how these vary through space and time, and to which degree climate change affects and controls them.
  • Appreciate how this knowledge can be applied for sustainable risk management.

Skills
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Search, analyse, and interpret a wide range of field based and remote sensing borne monitoring data from and about Arctic natural hazards.
  • Execute a wide range of data acquisition methods for researching different natural hazards.
  • Receive an official drone pilot license.
  • Perform a quantitative risk assessment of Arctic natural hazards.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • Gain awareness and appreciation of current research issues, knowledge base, and methodologies that analyze and concern Arctic natural hazards in a changing climate.
  • Evaluate the risk from diverse Arctic natural hazards in a changing climate and communicate in an informed way to specialists in their respective fields as well as to stakeholders and the public by written and oral means.
  • Apply the obtained general Arctic hazards competence to lead a diverse group of scientists in a risk assessment project, where their knowledge base and skills facilitate the group’s success.

 

Learning activities:

The course extends over five weeks.

Preparatory work: 30 hours
Total lecture hours: 32 hours
Seminars: 49 hours
Poster production and presentation: 16 hours
Excursions and fieldwork: Ca. 9 days

Compulsory learning activities:

Seminars, computer lab work, fieldwork, field excursions.

All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.

Assessment:

Method Percentage of final grade
Oral group work: poster presentation 60%
Individual essay to be written after the course 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 February 2018

Snowmobile excursion in Svalbard, March 2012. Photo: Jacob Abermann/UNIS

Field excursion in whiteout conditions. Photo: Jacob Abermann/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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