GEOF232 a new 10 ECTS course in Practical Oceanography and Meteorology

Geophysics, and in particular meteorology and oceanography, live from the first-hand, tangible experience of the physics of the real world. During education, fieldwork is sometimes like the "flesh to the bone", as it can let abstract theoretical concepts become pleasantly concrete. While the Masters degree education at GFI for a long time has included courses with a practical component, our Bachelor students so far did not have much opportunity to make field measurements, at least not in meteorology. This has left an important source of scientific insight, but also of motivation to pursue a career in the field, sadly neglected.

Students launching a weather balloon onboard R/V Håkon Mosby

The new course "Practical oceanography and meteorology" (GEOF232, 10 ECTS) is designed to fill this gap in the Bachelors programme from spring 2016. While students normally will take this course during the 6th semester, it can be taken also during the 4th semester, if time allows, and by Master students. The new Bachelors field course is complementary to the advanced Masters fieldwork courses in meteorology and oceanography. The new course replaces the previous course "Operational oceanography" (GEOF231, 10 ECTS), adding a meteorology component, and a stronger emphasis on making own measurements. Ship time with R/V Håkon Mosby has been allocated to the course as in GEOF231 previously. As before, this will expose students to emerging operational observing systems in oceanography. We also continue to collaborate with external institutions in the Bergen area which apply and develop state-of-art instrumentation and technology.

During the new course, students will work in small groups on self-designed field studies targeting the ocean, atmosphere, or ocean-atmosphere interaction. For example, one group may study orographic cold-air drainage by deploying a number of automatic weather stations at Løvstakken mountain, while another group studies freshwater input and distribution in the Hardanger fjord. Students will take responsibility for instrument setup and acquiring measurement data during the field phase. Thereafter, students continue to work independently in supervised groups. Questions related to judging the reliability of data, measurement interpretation, and hypothesis testing will be taken up during regular meetings. In a final workshop, the students present their findings to an audience which includes representatives from external institutions, such as IMR or MET Norway. The findings will also be documented by each group in a joint written report.

The course was conducted for the first time last spring (vårsemesteret 2016) in the Strandebarmbukta of Hardanger fjord and attracted motivated 6 Bachelor and Master students. During the field measurements we set up several weather stations, and here is a time lapse of when we took down one of them (with the help of a dog:)

Time lapse courtesy Elise Gloppen Hunnes, 2016