AG-325 Glaciology (10 ECTS)

ID:

AG-325

CREDITS:

10 ECTS

APPLICATION DEADLINE:

October 15, 2022

START DATE:

January 30, 2023

END DATE:

March 03, 2023

COURSE PERIOD:

Spring semester (March - April) annually

Investigating winter advance of the Tunabreen surge following the return of daylight and good sea ice conditions for travel. Photo: Andy Hodson/UNIS

Grade:Letter grade (A through F)
Course Cost:None
Course Capacity Min/Max:10/20 students (AG-325/825 in total)
Language of instruction:English
Examination support material:Bilingual dictionary between English and mother tongue

Course requirements

Enrolment in a master programme. Background in glaciology, physical geography and/or geology. Preference will be given to students working on a Master thesis in glaciology.

Academic content

The course uses the unique opportunities presented by Svalbard to better understand the characteristics, dynamics and likely fate of contemporary Arctic glaciers. A great emphasis is placed upon monitoring skills development. Lectures will describe how research in Svalbard has developed our understanding of thermally complex Arctic glaciers, and how climate change has strongly influenced this complexity. The impact of thermal change will be a recurring theme, and we will consider its influence upon ice dynamics and hydrological processes in particular. In this way, the relationship between climate, mass balance and glacier dynamics (including surging) can be explored in depth. Monitoring skills development will involve indoor workshops during the first part of the course and intensive fieldwork during the second.

Learning outcomes

Upon completing the course, the students will:

Knowledge

  • have a broad-based understanding of glaciological processes, based upon published material and first-hand experience.
  • have insight into different approaches to investigating Arctic glaciers using remote sensing and direct field observations.
  • understand the response of Arctic glaciers to climate change, and begin to appreciate how their mass balance, thermal characteristics and dynamics will change in future.
  • appreciate the importance and limitations of Arctic glacier monitoring during the winter season.

Skills

  • develop key observational skills required for modern Arctic glaciology, including field data collection and analysis, image processing and interpretation.
  • have logistical and organisational competence relevant to fieldwork during the Arctic winter season.

General competences

  • have the ability to write and present a scientific report and a grant proposal
  • be able to critically evaluate the published literature given your appreciation of the observational challenges faced by glaciologists working in the Arctic.
  • be able to design and implement a short field programme as part of a team.

Learning activities

The course extends for ca. 5 weeks including compulsory safety training.

During the first part of the programme, the course will have a theoretical part with lectures, seminars, computer practicals and field day trips (weather permitting). Then we will conduct an intensive field programme upon two contrasting valley glaciers, followed by lab classes and workshops, wherein we develop communal data resources for the fieldwork reports. A further day trip will be used to ensure students witness more active tidewater glaciers, including surges (if accessible). Students will have the opportunity to introduce their background and thesis at the start of the programme, and then to present the outcomes of the field programme (in groups) in the latter part of the course.

Summary

  • Total lecture hours: 24 hours.
  • Seminars: 6 hours.
  • Lab/exercise hours: 24 hours.
  • Fieldwork or field excursions: 4–6 days.

Compulsory learning activities

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

  • All exercises
  • Field training
  • Excursions

Assessment

  • 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.
MethodLength
Percentage of final grade
Grant proposal 2000 words40%
Field report2500 words60%

Student life

Winter fieldwork insights can be special. Here the clarity of ice structures in a medial moraine deformed by glacier surging has been enhanced by the lack of melting by solar radiation during the dark season. After the onset of summer, the structures become almost invisible. The photo was taken on a snow scooter excursion to Vestre Grønfjordbreen. Photo: Andy Hodson/UNIS
Winter fieldwork insights can be special. Here the clarity of ice structures in a medial moraine deformed by glacier surging has been enhanced by the lack of melting by solar radiation during the dark season. After the onset of summer, the structures become almost invisible. The photo was taken on a snow scooter excursion to Vestre Grønfjordbreen.
Photo: Andy Hodson/UNIS