Arctic glacier field course – Københavns Universitet

Arctic glacier field course

The course on Disko Island, western Greenland will offer hands-on research based teaching in the field of ice core science. Introducing participants to key scientific methods critical for understanding past and present climate changes in the Arctic. The field course is interdisciplinary, and will provide training in extracting and analysing ice cores as well as in understanding Arctic climate changes on multiple timescales based on ice cores and ice core proxies. In addition to the empirically based studies, the course will provide an opportunity to study the impact of changes in Arctic climate on glaciers and marginal ice caps on Greenland using a ssimple dynamical glacier model. Through the course, PhDs will learn the theory behind and gain experience with a set of highly relevant field based techniques for extracting climate archives from ice cores. This is currently not covered by traditional graduate programs in Norway.

Partners in the field course include University of Bergen (ice dynamics and paleoclimate), University of Copenhagen (ice core techniques), University of Zurich (dynamical ice modelling), and Scripps Institution of Oceanography (ice-ocean interactions).

Description of activity: During the field course, the participants will be working in groups alternating between learning the theory behind ice coring techniques (snow sampling, snow pits, shallow drilling, deep drilling), ice core proxies (water isotopes, chemical impurities, dating techniques, uncertainties), dynamical modelling of small ice caps (numerical ice flow modelling, SIA, mass balance), dynamics of marine terminating glaciers (ice-ocean interactions, fjord circulation, subglacial discharge, calving laws), as well as hands-on training in the field (including safety when traveling on a glacier). The icecoring will take place on a local ice cap lead by Dorthe Dahl Jensen (NBI), and the lectures and ice modelling activities will take place in Arctic station lead by Kerim H. Nisancioglu (UiB), Andreas Vieli (Zurich) and Fiamma Straneo (Scripps).

Preliminary analysis of the ice core data as well as snow samples obtained (including use of a Piccaro) will be carried out at Arctic station, which is fully equipped with lab spaces and lecture facilities. We will also take advantage of the unique records of climate, fjord hydrography and sea ice conditions from west Greenland available at the station, which is the oldest Arctic research station in the world.

Objectives: Introduce students to field and lab based methods necessary to retrieve key climate data documenting variability of temperature and mass balance of typical Arctic glaciers, as well as to simple dynamical models for understanding the transient response of glaciers and small ice caps to climate changes.

Outcome: Following the course the students will have in-depth insight into ice coring techniques, ice core proxy analysis, a basic understanding of ice dynamics, and hands-on experience with numerical ice flow modelling. The course will also foster a strong international network of PhDs and lecturers in polar climate science.

For more details on the course, please visit the ice2ice website