Development of Arctic Safety Centre 2016–2020
Sponsored by: Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Project Number: 990020
Project Period: 08.2016–08.2019
Funding: 13 815 000 NOK
Task Owner: University Centre in Svalbard
Project Manager and contact person: Ann Christin Auestad
We work in close cooperation with our partners.
Short project summary
The natural environment in the high north is undergoing rapid change while at the same time the interest in presence and economic development in the region has never been greater. As a consequence, the need for increased competence and sharing of experience in how to operate in a safe and environmental manner in the high Arctic is acute and extremely relevant. Both the location of UNIS and years of experience collection related to Arctic safety make Svalbard an excellent location for an Arctic safety competence center. There is already a demand from several national and international partners for an Arctic safety center.
The purpose is to contribute to as safe and sustainable human activity in the high Arctic as possible and the deliverables are as follows:
- A Master programme in Arctic Safety
- Practical safety courses for industry, academia, residents of Longyearbyen
- New knowledge, theory, and models
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30 July 2018
Report from the first Arctic Safety course
During June 2018, 17 students completed the first MSc-level course within the Arctic Safety Centre at UNIS. AS-301 Risk Assessment of Arctic Natural Hazards is a multidisciplinary course on 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.
The MSc students with diverse backgrounds spanning from geography, risk management and environmental sciences gained analytical knowledge and process understanding of weather (extreme weather, climate change), slope (avalanches, landslides), bio (polar bears, parasites, environmental pollutants), and cryohazards (glaciers, icebergs, permafrost) in an Arctic context.
The very diverse subjects were taught by UNIS staff and adjunct staff who are experts within their respective fields, introducing the students to basic concepts as well as guiding them through exercises and hands-on fieldwork.
Highlight of the course was a two-day excursion to Pyramiden with a day spent on Nordenskioldbreen were the natural hazards of glacier dynamics, crevasse formation and iceberg production for travel over glaciers and at sea were presented in the field.
The entire last week of the course was reserved for practical group risk management projects. Four groups gathered data and information about a range of projects spanning from the risk assessment of building infrastructure in areas with warming permafrost and coastal erosion to the inherent snow avalanche risk in Nybyen. The results were then presented in a formal poster presentation session that acted also as the main exam of the course.
After completing the first AS-301 course, the students left with gained awareness and appreciation of current research issues and practical challenges concerning Arctic natural hazards in a changing climate together with an ability to evaluate the risk, communicate it in an informed way and lead or be part of a diverse group carrying out a risk management project.
All photos by Thorben Dunse/UNIS:
28 June 2018
We talked to two students from the first course in the Arctic Safety Centre; Heidur Thorisdottir and Zuzanna Kochanowicz from Island and Canada, and they think it is a good opportunity to be students at UNIS and the Arctic Safety Centre. The fieldwork has been especially interesting. The student environment has been excellent and they have made friends from all over the world. They are both staying here in Svalbard over the summer and are fascinated with the Svalbard nature and outdoor possibilities. They are looking forward to the next master courses in the Arctic Safety Centre and hope that they may fit with their master programme.
22 June 2018
Arctic Safety Conference 2019
We are planning the first Arctic Safety Conference, an international conference that will take place in Longyearbyen 13–15 May 2019. Read more about the aim and planned themes of the conference here.
7 June 2018
The first students are here!
The course AS-301 Risk Assessment of Arctic Natural Hazards has started and we are happy to welcome the students to UNIS! 16 highly motivated students from Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, and Canada are attending the course. Their backgrounds range from geography, physics and environmental sciences to energy, climate change and risk management.
All photos by Ann Christin Auestad/UNIS:
15 January 2018
New course: AS-301 Risk Assessment of Arctic Natural Hazards
This is a 10 ECTS, 5 weeks Master course which will run in June–July 2018. Deadline for application is 15 February 2018.
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 will be followed by four applied modules in weather hazards, slope hazards, biohazards, and cryohazards.
Admission requirements: Enrolment in a relevant master programme in natural sciences, environmental sciences, or technology.
3–4 May 2017
The third steering committee meeting for Arctic Safety Centre, UNIS, Longyearbyen
All partners of the project were presented during the two-day session. During the session the group discussed progress and development of the project. Group leaders for the 4 working groups were present the first day to present status and progress for the work. Plans for future work were also discussed. The engagement from the participants was good and several good and important action points were highlighted.
5 January 2017
Gemini has written a news article (in Norwegian) about the Arctic Safety Centre, you may read it here.
17–19 November 2016
Arctic Safety Centre Workshop at UNIS, Longyearbyen
The 17–19th of November a workshop for the project Arctic Safety Centre was performed. The purpose for the workshop was to draft an outline for a pilot subject that shall run at UNIS in 2018. The target group for this pilot subject is natural science master students. Our ambition is that the subject shall be included as a part of the Arctic safety Centre subject portfolio within “Arctic safety” when the Centre is established. The workshop started with short presentations from partners and stakeholders regarding possible areas that should be part of a pilot subject. We were also given time to discuss the different natural science areas and how they in a best possible way should be utilized in an Arctic safety context.
Workshop participants: Jim Parsons, Academic Director Master of Maritime Management, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Aleksey Marchenko, Professor in Ice Mechanics, UNIS, Sara Cohen, Staff Engineer Arctic Geology, UNIS, Chris Borstad, Associate Professor of Snow and Ice Physics, UNIS, Marius Jonassen, Associate Professor Meteorology, UNIS, Nataly Marchenko, Researcher Arctic Technology, UNIS, Ann Christin Auestad, Project Manager ASC, UNIS, Sarah Strand, International Permafrost Association Secretariat, UNIS, Lena Rubensdotter, Adjunct Professor of Quaternary Geology, UNIS, Hanne Christiansen, Professor of Physical Geography, Department Leader Arctic Geology, UNIS, Holt Hancock, PhD Candidate Snow Science, UNIS, Dominik Lang, Head of Department of Earthquake and Hazard Risk, NORSAR, Graham Gilbert, PhD Candidate Permafrost, UNIS, Markus Eckerstorfer, Research Scientist, NORUT, Mike Retelle, Adjunct Professor of Geology, UNIS, (seated:) Mads Forchhammer, Professor of Terrestrial Zoology, UNIS, Abbas Barabadi, Associate in Engineering and Safety, University of Tromsø, and Frede Lamo, Head Engineer in Materials/Field, UNIS.
7–8 November 2016
The second steering committee meeting for Arctic Safety Centre, UNIS, Longyearbyen
All partners of the project were presented during the two days session. During the session the group discussed progress and development of the project and especially progress from working groups. Plans for future work were also discussed. The engagement from the participants was good.
26–28 October 2016
A collaboration meeting has been performed between NTNU, the University of Stavanger and UiT the Arctic University of Norway. The ambition was to establish the academic content for the risk and safety theory master/bachelor programme. The meeting was a success and good progress was made.
20 October 2016
Work group four has performed a workshop to continue the work regarding the GAP analyses and to prepare an action plan for further progress. The engagement was good and several good initiatives were identified.
The partners in the group are: The Norwegian Polar Institute, Longyearbyen Red Cross, Longyearbyen Community Council, Spitsbergen Travel, Telenor, Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions and UNIS.
The Arctic Safety Centre is pleased to welcome the University of Stavanger and UiT the Arctic University of Norway as new partners in the project.
7–8 September 2016
Work group one has performed its first workshop regarding identifying the risk and safety theory to be included as a 60 credit master/bachelor programme at UNIS. The objective for this workshop was to complete the GAP analyses and to establish an action plan for identification of activities for further progress. The group completed the action plan and was pleased with the collaboration within the group.
The partners in the group are: The Norwegian Polar Institute, UArctic, Memorial University of Newfoundland, NTNU and UNIS.