International Bachelor Permafrost Summer Field School

Permafrost exists in 25 % of the terrestrial parts of planet Earth. It is highly sensitive to climatic changes, as most permafrost is very close to 0˚C. The course focus on the presenting the direct climate influence on permafrost, but also the possibility for the permafrost to contain greenhouse gases, which can affect climate.

Permafrost is continuous in Svalbard in 40% of the landscape which is not glacier-covered, but which forms the periglacial environment. In this geographical setting, the course uses the Svalbard landscape and infrastructure to introduce the most important permafrost controlled landforms,  the extent of permafrost, the ground thermal regime, the influence of water on permafrost, how permafrost affect the infrastructure, remote sensing of permafrost and permafrost basic drilling and laboratory analyses.

The course offers insights into the following scientific permafrost topics:

  • Permafrost history and its distribution globally.
  • Permafrost temperatures in various parts of the World – climatic and other controls.
  • Methods of permafrost observations, focusing on drilling, coring and instrumentation.
  • Permafrost databases and their use in permafrost analyses.
  • How does permafrost affect local community infrastructure and cultural life? 
  • Interaction between carbon and water in permafrost landscapes.
  • How sensitive are permafrost landforms towards climate change?

You can take this course either as a 5 ECTS point course, finishing with an oral presentation in the summer school. Or you can do an individual science project based on the course knowledge, to be submitted by the end of the autumn/fall semester following the summer field school and then graded, and you will obtain 10 ECTS. Students doing 10 ECTS will be given preference to the course.

There is no tuition fee for this course. Accommodation for students during the course in student housing in Longyearbyen, and it will cost 3900-4600 NOK, corresponding to app. 490-575 Euro, depending on the type of room chosen.

Required previous knowledge/course specific requirements: Enrolment in a relevant bachelor programme.

The field school is open to senior bachelor degree students interested in obtaining general knowledge about permafrost.

Related link:

Contact for further questions:

Hanne H. Christiansen ( and Kenji Yoshikawa (

Course details

Academic level(s)Bachelor
Language of instructionEnglish
InstitutionUniversity Centre in Svalbard
Begin date12.06.2015
End date03.07.2015
Registration deadline15.02.2015
ECTS credits10.0
Field schoolYes
Fields of studyEnvironmental scienceEarth science
Teaching placeLongyearbyen, Svalbard
Tagsfield schoolclimate changepermafrostfieldschoolgeology
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