Successful Permafrost course         09.05.07

The new UNIS course, Permafrost and Periglacial Environments, concluded last week. The course, where students from seven nations participated, has been a success.

Text: Eva Therese Jenssen

UNIS Geological Department celebrated the opening of IPY by launching two new graduate courses this year. One of them is the AG-330 Permafrost and Periglacial Environments course. This 10 ECTS credits course was run as an intensive course from Easter to May 4th. The course was attended by students from seven nations: Norway , Italy , Netherlands , Germany , Denmark , Finland and Japan . Associate Professor Hanne H. Christiansen has been responsible for developing this course and has been the UNIS coordinating lecturer on the course. I am very satisfied with the course and the students have been very enthusiastic, so I would deem it a success, Christiansen says.

During the four weeks of teaching the students have been offered lectures by seven different lecturers, all involved in the IPY project Thermal State of Permafrost (TSP), most of them in the TSP Norway project, but also one from the TSP Canada project.

The students have been on snow mobile excursions to study different permafrost conditions and periglacial landforms such as the impressive open system pingos in Reindalen, done fieldwork to study the ice-content and frost heave in the active layer at a solifluction site in Endalen, and studied how the periglacial landforms such as the debris flows, rockfalls, and snow avalanches form the slopes in Longyear valley. The students have each produced an essay on how a periglacial landform or the permafrost itself is influenced by climate change, and the results were presented at a final workshop on May 4th at UNIS. The course will also be offered in April 2008.