Polar Oceanography

Postgraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content


The course aims to describe circulation and dynamics of the polar oceans, including the Norwegian- and Greenland Sea. The topics are discussed with respect to climatic variations and compared for the Arctic and Antarctic regions.


The course covers important processes related to thermodynamics of cold seawater, theories for mixing and dense water formation, boundary layers processes, sea ice formation, melting of ice-shelves, and heat budgets for the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. These processes are related to general climate variability, and to ongoing global warming.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the course the student should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:



The student

  • has an advanced knowledge of the role of the two polar regions in the global ocean
  • understands well the most important features of ocean circulation in the two polar regions
  • understands well the effects of stratification and freshwater budgets
  • has an advanced knowledge of cooling, sea ice formation, melting of ice-shelves, and production of deep water



The student

  • is able to analyze and calculate air-ice-ocean fluxes and sea ice formation rates
  • is able to explain and estimate vertical mixing, convection, and dense water formation
  • is able to explain general circulation and vertical stratification in the polar oceans
  • can run a vertical convection model and interpret and plot results


General competence

The student

  • can discuss the role of the polar oceans in global climate change
  • can read and present papers from international scientific journals
  • can present observations and simulations as a poster and present in a poster session
  • can write a short scientific report using standard scientific standards with citations

Semester of Instruction

Spring. Runs only if enough students enrol.
Enrolment to this course is based on application. Application deadline is Thursday in week 2 for the spring semester.
Please, see this page for more information: www.uib.no/en/matnat/53431/admission-courses-limited-capacity

Place of Instruction

Required Previous Knowledge
Bachelor's degree in Climate, Atmosphere and Ocean Physics (named Bachelor's degree in Meteorology and Oceanography until Fall 2017), or equivalent
Recommended Previous Knowledge
GEOF310 Turbulence in the Atmospheric and Ocean Boundary Layer.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
GEOF335: 10 ECTS.
Access to the Course
Access to the course requires admission to a master¿s programme at The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
Teaching and learning methods
4 hours of lectures or seminars per week, and 2 hours of exercises or experiments some weeks.
Lectures and exercises will vary through the semester.
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Participate actively in a group presentation, participate in a poster session with your own poster, present one paper in class, participate in two small lab experiments, and write a scientific report based on a numerical model.
(Valid for four semesters: The semester mandatory activities have been approved and the three following semesters.)
Forms of Assessment
Oral exam. The mandatory scientific report will be included in the examination.
Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Assessment Semester
Examination both spring semester and autumn semester. In semesters without teaching the examination will be arranged at the beginning of the semester.
Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and January 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
The course will be evaluated by the students in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the department.
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the study programme and courses.