AT-832 Physical Environmental Loads on Arctic Coastal and Offshore Structures (10 ECTS)

Fieldwork set-up on Breinosa, Svalbard

October 17, 2022
November 25, 2022
Autumn semester (September–November), annually
10 ECTS with AT-323 and AT-332
Letter grade (A through F)
Books: 1) Newman, J.B., Marine Hydrodynamics. 2) Bear, J., 1972. Dynamics of Fluids in Porous Media. Dover Publications. 3) Sanderson, T.J.O., 1983. Ice Mechanics. Risks to Offshore Structures. 4) River and Lake Ice Engineering, 1986. Ashton, G.D. (Editor). 5) Weeks, W., 2010. On Sea Ice. 6) A list of selected scientific papers will be available upon course start.
10/20 students (AT-332/832 in total)
Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue. Non-programmable calculator

Course requirements:

Enrolment in a relevant PhD programme. Basic knowledge of mathematics and physics at master level.

Academic content:

The course introduces students to modern physical and mathematical models describing physical environmental loads on coastal and offshore structures in the Arctic in ice free and ice seasons. The course is subdivided into two parts based on hydrodynamic analysis of water actions of structures and seabed and analysis of ice actions on structures and coastal zone by solid mechanics methods.

The main focus of the first part of the course is on the models describing propagation of surface gravity waves, wave actions on fixed and floating structures, drift of floes and icebergs, sediment transport, effects of ground water migration, and soil permeability in the coastal zone. Fieldwork is organized in the area of Longyearbyen harbour and focused on the investigation of waves and sea current actions on floating structures and sediment transport. Laboratory work is performed with the UNIS wave tank.

PhD students can be involved in laser scanning of coastal structures and data analysis.

The main focus of the second part of the course is on the models describing ice behaviour under thermal and mechanical loads, bearing capacity of the ice under static and moving loads, and ice actions on offshore and coastal structures. Lectures also include formulation of codes for the design of offshore constructions in ice conditions and probability methods for the estimates of risks due to long term exploitation of offshore structures. Laboratory work performed in the cold laboratory of UNIS is focused on investigation of ice strength at laboratory scale. Fieldwork on full scale strength of fresh ice is organized on a lake near Longyearbyen depending on weather conditions.

Seminars include analytical exercises and numerical simulations by Comsol Multiphysics, MatLab and Wolfram Mathematica.

The AT-823 students will contribute and advise AT-332 students both during the field and in the laboratory work and when making the report from the study.

Learning outcomes:

Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • understand and be able to use specified phys.-math models describing propagation of surface gravity waves, wave actions on floating and fixed structures, sediment transport, permeability of soils and saline ice, ice rheology and behaviour under static and dynamic loads, ice actions on coastal and offshore structures
  • have basic knowledge of ISO standards and probabilistic estimates of ice loads on offshore and coastal structures, methodology of ice strength tests at laboratory and full scales
  • construct mathematical models of physical effects observed in the laboratory and field experiments.

Upon completing the course, the students will have:

  • experience in modelling with Comsol Multiphysics
  • experience from fieldwork in the coastal zone of Svalbard fjords in the ice-free season
  • experience in performing ice tests in the cold laboratory of UNIS
  • experience to work with laser scanner
  • skills to develop research questions / hypotheses for projects and should also be familiar with methods to be used when studying problems of offshore engineering.

General competences
Upon completing the course, the students will:

  • have Arctic survival and safety experience from fieldwork 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 6 weeks including compulsory safety training, and is run in combination with AT-332.

Seminars include mathematical exercises, performing of results of field and laboratory work and exercises for exam preparation. Each student should prepare a report/manuscript with research paper structure (3000-5000 words, including introduction, text, references, figures, tables and conclusion) on lab- and fieldwork. Reports can be individual or in groups.

Total lecture hours: Ca. 35 hours
Total seminars hours:
Ca. 10 hours
Laboratory and fieldwork:
Ca. 7–8 days

Compulsory learning activities:

Seminars, presentations, laboratory work and fieldwork, preparation of two written reports on lab and fieldwork in the first and the second parts of the course.
All compulsory learning activities must be approved in order to sit the exam.


Method Duration
Percentage of final grade
Written report 1 20%
Written report 2 20%
 Written exam  4 hours  60%

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: As soon as possible

To apply, send an e-mail to with information about which study programme you are currently enrolled in. Also list the course code/name for the course(s) you are interested in applying for. Please remember that your enrolment must be valid during your planned stay at UNIS.


Fieldwork on a lake, Svalbard

AT-332/832 fieldwork. Photo: Nina Ganicheva.

Fieldwork set-up on Breinosa, Svalbard

AT-332/832 fieldwork on a lake on Breinosa. Photo: David Wrangborg/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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