651-4101-00L  Physics of Glaciers

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersM. Lüthi, F. T. Walter, M. Werder
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


651-4101-00 GPhysics of Glaciers3 hrs
Mon12:15-15:00ML E 12 »
M. Lüthi, F. T. Walter, M. Werder

Catalogue data

AbstractUnderstanding glaciers and ice sheets with simple physical concepts. Topics include the reaction of glaciers to the climate, flow of glacier ice, temperature in glaciers and ice sheets, glacier hydrology, glacier seismology, basal motion and calving glaciers. A special focus is the current development of the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.
ObjectiveAfter the course the students are able understand and interpret measurements of ice flow, subglacial water pressure and ice temperature. They will have an understanding of glaciology-related physical concepts sufficient to understand most of the contemporary literature on the topic. The students will be well equipped to work on glacier-related problems by numerical modeling, remote sensing, and field work.
ContentThe dynamics of glaciers and polar ice sheets is the key requisite to understand their history and their future evolution. We will take a closer look at ice deformation, basal motion, heat flow and glacier hydraulics. The specific dynamics of tide water and calving glaciers is investigated, as is the reaction of glaciers to changes in mass balance (and therefore climate).
Lecture notesWill be provided on Moodle
LiteratureA list of relevant literature is available on Moodle
Prerequisites / NoticeHigh-school mathematics and physics knowledge required.
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Techniques and Technologiesfostered
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Media and Digital Technologiesassessed
Social CompetenciesCommunicationfostered
Cooperation and Teamworkfostered
Self-presentation and Social Influence fostered
Personal CompetenciesCreative Thinkingassessed
Critical Thinkingassessed
Integrity and Work Ethicsfostered

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits3 credits
ExaminersM. Lüthi, F. T. Walter, M. Werder
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.

Learning materials

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Offered in

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Earth Sciences MasterElectivesWInformation
MAS in Sustainable Water ResourcesElective CoursesWInformation
Physics BachelorElectivesWInformation
Environmental Sciences MasterMinor in Physical GlaciologyWInformation