spring 2023
BIO-3029 Sea ice habitats and biology - 5 ECTS

Application deadline

Concerns only admission to singular courses: Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Exchange students and Fulbright students: 15 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

Master course for mainly biology students, but students from other disciplines (e.g. physcis, geology, chemistry) are encouraged to enroll.

The course is available as a singular course.

Admission requirements

Local admission, application code 9371 - Master`s level singular course. Admission requires a Bachelor`s degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification, with a major in biology of minimum 80 ECTS.

Course content

The course will provide the students with detailed knowledge regarding the physical, chemical and biological properties of sea ice from micro- to basin-wide scales.

The following topics will be covered for the Arctic Ocean, sub-Arctic Seas (e.g. Baltic, Ramfjorden, Saroma-Ko Lagoon), and the Southern Ocean:

  • large scale distribution of different sea ice types (remote sensing based)
  • sea ice microstructure (ice crystal structure, brine channel system, temperature, salinity, permeability)
  • sea ice seasonal growth and melt
  • sea ice biogeochemistry (primary production, carbon cycle, nutrient cycle)
  • sea ice biodiversity from viruses to metazoans
  • relevance of sea ice for pelagic and benthic biota
  • role of sea ice in the geochemical cycles of Arctic, Antarctic and sub-Arctic Seas
  • the impacts of global climate change and increased human activities in ice-covered seas

The course will consist of weekly blocks of two hours of lectures and a two hour seminar assignment. Within each week, the two lectures will focus on a certain theme. The seminar will be largely group work by the students (2 to 5 students per group), working on theme specific tasks including analysis of data sets, calculation of ice properties, analysis of remote sensing information. Each group will develop a short 5 to 10 minute presentation which is given in the second half of the seminar hour. This will give students the opportunity to enhance their ability for group work, discuss science, and improve their presentation skills as well as being active in discussions. These seminar assignments are an essential part of the course, mandatory, but not graded.

Objectives of the course

Through attendance of lectures and participation in seminars (e.g. group work & class discussion) students will develop knowledge on:

  • sea ice classification and physical-chemical properties
  • identification and diversity of sea ice biological communities
  • spatio-temporal variability of sea ice habitats from micro- to hemispheric scales
  • coupling of sea ice habitats to pelagic and benthic environments and communities
  • the global importance of sea ice in climate, ocean function and socio-economy

Students will apply this knowledge (skills) to:

  • Classify the groups of biological communities inhabiting sea ice
  • Examine current and predicted changes to sea ice habitats
  • Describe the processes ice formation, growth and melt
  • Describe variability in physical and biogeochemical properties of sea ice
  • Discuss current sea ice research from peer-reviewed literature

Following this course and completion of the essay assignment, students should have general competence in:

  • Summarizing the dynamics of sea ice habitats
  • Using hypothesis testing in scientific research
  • Applying theoretical understanding of sea ice habitats to field-based sampling
  • Predicting the fate of sea ice communities with ongoing climate change
  • Investigate scientific data individually or as part of a working group

Language of instruction and examination


Teaching methods

Lectures (10 x 45 min), seminars (10 x 45 min), reading assignments for each week, home assignment (essays), preparation for one written exam. Preparations of presentations in seminar are done mainly during class hours.

Students are expected to actively participate in the lectures. 90% participation in the seminars is mandatory.

Information to incoming exchange students

This module is open for exchange students with a bachelor degree in Biology.

Do you have questions about this module? Please check the following website to contact the course coordinator for exchange students at the faculty: https://en.uit.no/education/art?p_document_id=510412

More info about the coursework requirements

90% participation in the seminars. Students can therefore miss one seminar unexcused. Further exceptions can be granted based on written requests and supporting documentation and approval by the instructors.

Approved work requirements have a duration of 3 years, from the semester in which the work requirements were taken.

Re-sit examination

There will not be a re-sit examination for students that did not pass the previous ordinary examination.

Info about the weighting of parts of the examination

Students will get a certain point value for each assignment (exam and essay) which is converted into a grade each. See assessment guidelines for conversion table and more detailed assessment criteria. The final grade is decided on the total combined points by the sensors.
  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 5
  • Course code: BIO-3029
  • Tidligere år og semester for dette emnet