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Table of Contents

1. Course title

Frozen Ground

2. Course code


Aikaisemmat leikkaavat opintojaksot 535044 Routa, 5 op

3. Course status: optional

Master's Programme in Atmospheric Sciences

ATM300 Advanced Studies in Atmospheric Sciences (optional for Study Track in Geophysics of the Hydrosphere)

-Is the course available to students from other degree programmes?

4. Course level (first-, second-, third-cycle/EQF levels 6, 7 and 8)

Master’s level, degree programmes in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine = secondcycle
degree/EQF level 7
Doctoral level = third-cycle (doctoral) degree/EQF level 8

-Does the course belong to basic, intermediate or advanced studies (cf. Government Decree
on University Degrees)?
Advanced studies

5. Recommended time/stage of studies for completion

-The recommended time for completion may be, e.g., after certain relevant courses have
been completed.

6. Term/teaching period when the course will be offered

-The course may be offered in the autumn or spring term or both.
-If the course is not offered every year, this must be indicated here.
-Specification of the teaching period when the course will be offered

7. Scope of the course in credits

5 cr

8. Teacher coordinating the course

Ekaterina Ezhova

9. Course learning outcomes

The course covers the physics of the frozen ground, both seasonally freezing ground and permafrost.

Upon completing of the course, the student will

- describe the dynamics of periglacial environment associated with climate change; 

- recognize specific landforms due to freezing-thawing cycles and prerequisites for their formation;

- understand what defines the thickness of permafrost and position of its top and base;

- examine short-term seasonal dynamics of frozen ground as well as long-term processes manifesting on geological times;

- get acknowledged with modern views on practically important phenomena associated with permafrost, such as frost heave and ice segregation;

- apply the knowledge to analyze measured data sets.

The student will be able to understand and critically assess our current knowledge on the evolution of permafrost in a changing climate.

10. Course completion methods

The course consists of lectures and seminars where students prepare presentations based on scientific papers. Each student must do at least one presentation. In the second part of the course, there will be group work on data analysis of temperature measurements in the boreholes.

11. Prerequisites

Basic knowledge of thermodynamics and mechanics

12. Recommended optional studies

Geophysics of snow and ice


13. Course content

  1. Concept of periglacial environment.
  2. Climate and ground freezing.
  3. Land forms created by cryogenic action.
  4. The ground thermal regime.
  5. Thermodynamics of frozen soils.
  6. Frost heave.
  7. Applications

14. Recommended and required literature

Required literature:

  • Williams (1989) The Frozen Earth. Cambridge University Press.
  • French (2018) The periglacial environment. Fourth edition. Wiley Blackwell.

Recommended literature:
Science papers distributed in the course. 

15. Activities and teaching methods in support of learning

Lectures and seminars, group work on data analysis. 

16. Assessment practices and criteria, grading scale

Presentations and scientific report. Grading 1-5.

17. Teaching language