AT-211 Ice Mechanics, Loads on Structures and Instrumentation (15 ECTS)

Student gymnastics on the sea ice

Reading list

January 16, 2023
June 8, 2023
Spring semester (January–June), annually.
15 ECTS with AT-208
Letter grade (A through F)
Books: Irgens, F. (2008): "Continuum mechanics". G. Ashton (1986): "River and lake ice engineering". Sanderson, T.J.O. (1988): "Ice mechanics. Risk to offshore structures". Løset et al. (2006): "Actions from ice on Arctic offshore and coastal structures". Scientific papers (provided).
Fieldwork, up to NOK 2400 (up to 12 days x NOK 200 per overnight stay)
10/20 students
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue. Non-programmable calculator.
October 15, 2022

Course requirements:

60 ECTS within the fields of mathematics, physics, mechanics, or engineering. 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.

The course is intended for students with interest in ice physics and mechanics, loads of structures and offshore or/and coastal infrastructure.

The course should be combined with AT-205 Frozen Ground Engineering for Arctic Infrastructures, and the two courses are designed to complement each other.

Academic content:

The course introduces students to problems of ice physics and mechanics and gives experience to work with modern scientific equipment in laboratory and field conditions. The course includes lectures about basic concepts of continuum mechanics (strain, stresses, equations of mass, momentum and energy balance), basic model of continuum mechanics (ideal and viscous fluids, elastic and viscous materials, plastic and viscous-elastic materials, granular materials) and methods of continuum mechanics used for the modelling of thermo-mechanical behaviour of saline and fresh ice itself and ice interactions with engineering structures (rheological models with thermal forcing, conceptions of compressive, tensile and flexural strength, bending deformations of floating ice, models of ice ridging and piling up). The course includes lectures about ISO design standards for the calculation of ice loads on offshore structures.

The course includes laboratory work in UNIS cold laboratory and fieldwork on land fast ice and fieldwork on drift ice in Svalbard region. Lectures about the instrumentation introduce students to the equipment used for the measurements of thermo-mechanical characteristics and strength of ice, and measurements of water characteristics (velocity, temperatures, and salinity) in ice covered ocean for the calculation of drag forces on ice and ocean heat flux to ice.

During the fieldwork the students have the possibility to observe sea ice motions and deformations created by tides, wind and sea currents, observe ice actions on coastal structures and ship. They will also gain experience in working with scientific equipment in Arctic conditions. Finally, the students should be able to formulate models and do numerical simulations of sea ice behaviour and ice-structure interactions and perform field and laboratory tests used for the design of offshore and coastal structures in the Arctic.


Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • know and understand basic physical-mathematical models describing sea ice growth, rheological properties of fresh and saline ice, drag forces applied to the ice by atmosphere and ocean, and ice interaction with offshore and coastal structures
  • have basic knowledge of ISO design standards for the calculation of ice loads on offshore structures
  • have an overview of standard and modern instrumentation used in field and laboratory studies of ice properties and water properties in under ice ocean layer.

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • be able to use ISO design standards for the calculation of ice loads on offshore structures
  • have gained experience in working with standard and modern instrumentation used in field and laboratory studies of ice properties and water properties in under ice-ocean boundary layer
  • be able to perform standard measurements of ice strength, stresses, displacements and deformations, and measurements of physical characteristics of ice covered waters followed by storing and interpreting of data collected.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • have Arctic survival and safety experience from field work on land and sea during winter/ice season
  • be able to conduct research work, independently and in groups, in a cold laboratory and in the field
  • have competence in preparing reports and presenting results in seminars.


Learning activities:

The course extends over a full semester. Initially, students attend one week of compulsory Arctic survival and safety training (AS-101).

Seminars include exercises with mathematical formulations and solutions of problems within lecture topics, performing of results of field and laboratory work and exercises for exam preparation. See “Academic content” for a further description of learning activities.

Total lecture hours: 50 hours
Seminars and project preparation: 20 hours
Laboratory work: 10 days
Field work on land fast ice: Approximately 5 days
Field work on drift ice: Approximately 7 days

The amount of laboratory- and field work may be subject to change due to logistical / weather conditions.

Compulsory learning activities:

Seminars, laboratory work and fieldwork.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
One written report on ice physics and thermodynamics 20%
One written report on ice mechanics 20%
One written report after the boat cruise 20%
Written exam 3 hours  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 October 2022


AT-211 cruise with Polarsyssel, April 2017. Drone photo: Sebastian Sikora/UNIS

AT-211 cruise with Polarsyssel, April 2017. Photo: Sebastian Sikora/UNIS


AT-211 students doing the spelling game on the sea ice. Photo: Renat Yulmetov/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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