Study plan - From Mountain to Fjord - Geology and Ecology of Western Norway

Autumn 2020

Introduction

From Mountain to Fjord is an environmental programme focusing on interdisciplinary natural science with a main emphasis on the geology, glacial geology, glacial ecology, and aquatic (marine fjord and freshwater) ecology of Western Norway. The Faculty is located at the shores of the Sogndalsfjord, a northwest tending tributary of the Sognefjord in Western Norway. The area spans across a variety of ecosystems over very short distances ranging from alpine, through lowland, into the marine fjord environment. This landscape offers a unique natural laboratory for fieldwork and research.

According to university (HVL) rules and regulations, the HVL covers expenses for travel and accommodation during fieldwork and excursions; students have to pay for their own food, though. The programme does not require tuition fees.

Learning outcomes

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The students will gain an understanding of the significance of a geological long-term perspective on the short term interpretation interpretation of environmental and climate change across gradients from mountain to fjord, and their natural and human induced sources.

Skills: The students shall be able to use lake and fjord deposits as a valuable geological tool for interpreting a variety of environmental and climate change settings in space and time. The students will learn how to add a continuous historical long-term (decades to centuries) dimension to the common approach of ecological short-term (months to years) interpretation of environmental and climate change.

General competence: The programme course provides the students with the competence to critically instruct decision makers on how to improve the reliability of an ecologically based interpretation of environmental and climate change by simply adding geological long-term information in a holistic approach.

Content

Content/structure

The course is interdisciplinary and focuses on the interaction of ecological documentation and geological source interpretation within a changing environment. The main concept is (a) to understand the formation of selected ecosystems based on bedrock geology, glacial geology and fjord hydrography; (b) to describe these selected ecosystems using glacial and marine ecology, fjord biology, hydrography and limnology; and (c) to conclude on the significance of fjord and freshwater sediments for the interpretation of environmental change along ecological gradients. The understanding of the total process provides an effective tool for the identification and timing of environmental and climate change.

The course consists of three modules (10 ECTS each), involving a total of 21 days of fieldwork on land and on fjords:

  • Module 1: GE476 Geological Aspects of Western Norway
  • Module 2: GE477 Glaciers and Ecology
  • Module 3: GE478 Fjord Processes

Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include lectures, exercises, fieldwork, and laboratory practice, including a continuous delivery of journals, and presentations in seminars. In addition, the students will perform a science project throughout the entire semester. The students will present the results of this sciences project in a public seminar at the end of the programme. Most of the practical exercises and/or laboratory work are compulsory.

Assessment

Work requirements

Approved presentations, and field and laboratory journals

 

Final assessment

  • Module 1: GE476 Geological Aspects of Western Norway: Multiple choice test, 10 ECTS
  • Module 2: GE477 Glaciers and Ecology: Written exam, 10 ECTS
  • Module 3: GE478 Fjord Processes: Multiple choice test (40%), and oral presentation at a public seminar on the science project (60%)