AGF-213 Polar Meteorology and Climate

This course is organised and taught at the "University Centre in Svalbard" and all informations can be found here on the official page from UNIS.


During the course students learn about meteorological processes and the climate of the polar regions. Since a couple of years staff from FMI is going to Longyearbyen to assist with fieldwork and guest lecturing. This year Timo Vihma, Stephan Kral and Daniel Kramer were responsible for parts of the fieldwork, data handling and lecturing.

This years fieldwork program was substantially different from the previous years. In recent years the fieldwork took place only in and around Longyearbyen. This year it included a trip to Kapp Linné. During the first few days several instruments were set up in Longyearbyen. An Automatic Weather Station (AWS) was set up near Nybyen, a sonic aneomometer in Advendtdalen (near the old aurora research station) and another AWS near Vestpynten. After checking them through and retrieving first data, the plan was to leave the stations for about 2 1/2 weeks on their own. Thoguh not directly related to the course, another sonic anemometer was set up near the old aurora station. The students were encouraged to have a look at that data as well. After that, the group set sails to Kapp Liné. Some were taken there by a small motor boat and the rest by the research vessel Haakon Mosby. The arrival day was used to unload and prepare instruments and people for the following days. After breakfast and a short briefing the different activities began. Throughout the whole time manual measurements were taken three times per day. An AWS and a sonic station were deployed near the shore, about a few hundred meters away from Isfjord Radio, which was hosting us. Another AWS was carried about 1 1/2 hours to the mouth of a valley and set up there.

The station is visited frequently by polar bears and even walking between the buildings required carrying a rifle for protection. And obviously that was also necessary during all activities further away from the station.

On the next day data was downloaded from the stations and first work was done on the data sets. Additionally a tethersonde was launched to measure the atmospheric boundary layer (AWS) up to about 1000m (the limitation is set by the airspace authorities). At the same time of the tethersonde-probing a SUMO (Small Unmanned Meteorological Observer) was launched as well. That is a small R/C-controlled aircraft, which also measured different meteorological parameters. For the next days that was the daily routine.

We were supposed to go back on Sunday, so we had to take down all instruments already during Saturday. The weather forecast promised higher wind speeds and some rain. And that was the case. Nonetheless all instruments were packed and stored at nightfall. Unfortunately the waves were too high to land with the small motorboat to bring equipment and people to the ship, that returned with another group of students from a cruise near the coastline of Svalbard. The day was used to work on data and also relax after some days out in the field. On Monday evening we finally got picked up by yet another boat in the area; so we kinda hitch-hiked back to Longyearbyen by boat.

The last days of the fieldwork were spend in Longyearbyen. Some transects with the STORMRIDER (Snowscooter Transect ObseRving MultiplatoRm Intelligent DrivER) were taken and finally the day came to pack the last equipment.

Parallel to the fieldwork Stephan Kral was teaching the students about "Boundary Layer Theory" and Daniel Kramer was giving a lecture about the atmosphere on Mars and its similarities to the terrestrial counterpart.

Some weeks later Timo Vihma visited Longyearbyen and gave lectures about numerical modeling in meteorology. He further assisted the students with their reports.