Module OSX-2011:
Ice and Oceans

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Margot Saher

Overall aims and purpose

  1. To understand the different sources and types of ice found in contact with the ocean.
  2. To provide a descriptive understanding of the physics underlying the accumulation, decay, flow, erosive potential, and sedimentation processes associated with glaciers terminating on land and in the ocean.
  3. To understand the way in which glaciers and ice sheets register and preserve proxy climate data.
  4. To understand the role of glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice, and their interactions with the ocean, in the global climate system at the present day, in the past and in the future, including forcing of ocean circulation and controls of sea level.
  5. To appreciate the distinctive differences between physical systems operating in the Arctic and Southern oceans.

Course content

Glaciology: glaciers on the earth's surface; scale and forms. Ice accumulation and ablation; glacier mass balance. Glacier thermal regime. Ice flow/movement. Processes of glacial erosion, sediment entrainment/transport and deposition on land and in the ocean.

Ice sheets as archives of past climate change. Ice core records.

Control of sea-level by glaciers. The glacio-eustatic mechanism, glacio-hydro-isostasy, ice-water gravitational attraction.

High latitude physical oceanography: the generation of deep-cold, bottom water masses (NADW, AABW) and their influence on Northern Atlantic, Southern Ocean and the general circulation of the oceans. The circulation of the Southern, Arctic and North Atlantic oceans.

Terrestrial ice in the ocean: ice shelves, ice tongues, icebergs and their role in deposition and sediment reworking. Tidewater glaciers and fjords. Grounding line fans, glacial debris flows, trough mouth fans, slumps and slides. Glacial geology of the Polar North Atlantic. Icebergs and iceberg scour. Ecology and palaeoecology of glacimarine environments. Criteria used to identify glacimarine environments. Ice-rafted detritus in deep marine sediments.

The module will embed 1. a Field Excursion to Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula to examine glacigenic landforms and sediments, and 2. desk-top study related to ice-ocean interactions and IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2013.

Assessment Criteria

threshold

Demonstrating a basic understanding of different forms of ice in, and in contact with, the ocean, glacier physics, flow, processes of erosion and deposition (on land, in lakes and in the ocean), glacial and glacimarine sediments and sedimentation, ice as a climate archive, and the interactions between the cryosphere and other components of the climate system.

good

Demonstrating a good understanding of different forms of ice in, and in contact with, the ocean, glacier physics, flow, processes of erosion and deposition (on land, in lakes and in the ocean), glacial and glacimarine sediments and sedimentation, ice as a climate archive, and the interactions between the cryosphere and other components of the climate system.

excellent

Demonstrating an excellent understanding of different forms of ice in, and in contact with, the ocean, glacier physics, flow, processes of erosion and deposition (on land, in lakes and in the ocean), glacial and glacimarine sediments and sedimentation, ice as a archive, and the interactions between the cryosphere and other components of the climate system.

Learning outcomes

  1. Identify the most significant physical and biogeochemical differences characterising cryosphere-hydrosphere interactions in the Arctic and the Southern oceans.

  2. Describe the different forms of ice found in or in contact with oceanic waters

  3. Describe and interpret sequences of glacial and related sediments in the field.

  4. Relate glacier physics to processes of erosion, sediment entrainment, transport and deposition (both on land and in the ocean)

  5. Identify the critical role that glaciers, ice sheets and sea ice play in the global climate system, both as active agents of change and as archives of past change

  6. Solve simple calculations relating to glacier dynamics and the physical oceanography of the high latitudes

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COMPREHENSION TEST Online test general knowledge, data mining, interpretation and comparison 15
COURSEWORK IPCC desktop study 10
REPORT Field report 25
EXAM Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Hours
Lecture

Lectures: 2 x 1 hour lectures per week for 11 weeks

22
Fieldwork

Fieldtrip: 1 day-long fieldtrip to Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula

8
Private study

The directed study will relate to each of the assessment elements:

  1. Essay assessment: this will require c. 43 hours directed research and reading
  2. Practical assessment: this will require c. 25 hours directed research and reading
  3. IPCC desktop study: this will require c. 25 hours directed research and reading
  4. Exam revision and wider general reading: c. 77 hours
170

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Resources

Resource implications for students

Warm and waterproof clothing for fieldwork in Snowdonia. Robust walking shoes/boots.

Talis Reading list

http://readinglists.bangor.ac.uk/modules/osx-2011.html

Courses including this module