Summer School "UNIS Glaciology"

Johannes Landmann


ETH Zurich

Lay summary

Description of the programme

Before commencing the course itself, a safety and logistics training was held. This training is useful not only for Arctic environments, but knowledge from it can also be applied easily to Alpine environments.

The first course part contained a presentation of the participants' projects as well as lectures and exercises on· glacier cave science, glacier mass balance, dynamics, active/passive remote sensing and ground penetrating radar. Two excursions to glacier caves and a surging glacier were followed by an intensive three day field programme upon a polythermal and a cold-based valley glacier. During this field programme, knowledge on ice core drilling, using ground penetrating radar and analyzing snowpacks was acquired. A lab class and computer exercises served to analyze samples from the field days. A workshop on research grant writing (for PhDs) and essay writing (master students) in glaciology was given. The planned day trip to visit a tidewater glacier had to be amended due to insufficient sea ice conditions, but learning targets were still successfully reached.

How did you personally benefit from the programme?

Probably the biggest added value of this course is that it is held entirely in the fascinating Arctic environment which is otherwise almost inaccessible. The course excursions to remote places allowed to get a full insight into the world of Arctic glaciers and their interplay with the surrounding landscape. The fact that all participants can profit from the broad experience of the course instructors, that are living in these places the year round, makes the course even more attractive.

Another added value is that there have been several specialists invited for different course sections which allowed an in-depth treatment of the course topics. The supplied exercises were well-prepared and structured.

What were the highlights of the training?

  • The excursions gave the unique opportunity to get insights into the otherwise inaccessible Arctic environment
  • The theoretical lessons, field work and lab class together gave a very well-structured round trip through a scientific workflow from planning to execution and analysis.
  • The writing workshop prepared us as early career scientist for possible future tasks.

Would you recommend the programme to other students?

Yes, I would definitely recommend this programme. It contains a very nicely harmonizing balance of theoretical and practical elements. The theoretical lessons prepare for a knowledge application during the excursions and the field work. The course length as a five week block training ensures that an intensive training can take place, as opposed to other shorter schools. Last but not least, the environmental emissions caused by the flights to and from the school seem a better investment than for short-term stays.


Regional focus Arctic
Location University of Svalbard, Norway
Funded amount 1,500 CHF
Project dates 4th February 2019 – 8th March 2019
Category Field and Summer Schools