The polar regions are intrinsically complex, under-observed systems where the ocean, the atmosphere, the cryosphere and the biosphere are strongly interconnected. They are undergoing rapid change due to changing environmental conditions with regional (e.g. ecosystem changes) and global implications (e.g. sea level rise due to melting polar ice sheets), and including new economic and geopolitical opportunities and challenges. As a result, there is a growing demand for polar science experts to be equipped with the tools and knowledge that will allow them to address the societally-relevant, urgent and complex questions that relate to the polar regions. The Scripps Polar Center is tackling this need through a series of undergraduate and graduate courses that target polar systems.

Undergraduate Courses

Ice in the Climate System (H. Fricker)

Interdisciplinary course on the Earth’s cryosphere, including glaciers, ice sheets, ice caps, sea ice, lake ice, river ice, snow and permafrost, itsrole in the climate system and its response to climate change.

Biology of the Cryosphere (J. Bowman)

The physiology and ecology of highly adapted organisms in the unique cryosphere and peripheral habitats with a special emphasis on sea ice as a habitat archetype, but also glacier, snow, and permafrost.

Graduate Courses

Ice Sheet – Ocean Interactions  (F. Straneo)

This interdisciplinary course will address the basic processes governing the exchange of heat and freshwater at the ice/ocean interface of tidewater glaciers and ice shelves and the impact these exchanges have on the ocean and the ice sheets. The course builds on lessons learned both in Antarctica and Greenland. Specific topics to be covered include: the physics of ice melting in water, watermass transformation by ice/ocean processes, fjord and cavity circulation and basic ice dynamics. The course will include modeling and data analysis exercises and a group project.

Polar Systems Science (J. Severinghaus and F. Straneo)

This interdisciplinary course aims to expose students to the concept of system science and provide them with them tools needed to address a problem from different perspectives. It will introduce the basic components of the polar systems – sea-ice, glaciers and ice sheets, polar ocean and atmosphere – but, also, highlight feedbacks amongst components. Students will be introduced to examples of questions where progress requires a ‘system understanding’ – e.g. impact of icebergs on ecoystems and sea-ice and the large scale ocean circulation; katabatic winds from ice sheets and their potential feedbacks on sea-ice and dense water formation; impact of algae and black carbon on the albedo of glacial ice; differences in sea-ice variability in the Arctic and Antarctic. Through much of the course students will choose a topic related to a polar system and carry out a project that will be presented to the class at the end.

Field Courses

Disko Island, Greenland, March 2018  (U. Copenhagen, U. Bergen, Scripps, UC San Diego)

Focus: glacier dynamics, ice sheet/ocean interaction, icebergs, ice cores; safety and field trainings. Lectures on glaciers, ice sheet/ocean, ice coring + Safety trainings

BEPSII (Biogeochemical Exchange Processes at Sea Ice Interfaces)

Biogeochemistry, physics of sea-ice

Graduate Program