11 - UNIS

Dr. Frank Nilsen

University Centre in Svalbard
9171 Longyearbyen



The University Centre in Svalbard in Longyearbyen (UNIS) was established in 1993 to provide university level education in Arctic studies, to carry out high quality research, and to contribute to the development of Svalbard as an international research platform. UNIS is the world’s northernmost higher education institution. UNIS offers education and performs research based on Svalbard’s location in the High Arctic and the advantages this represents. Located in Longyearbyen in central Spitsbergen, allowing year-round access to a wide range of glacier types in Arctic fjords, access to the Barents-, Greenland and Arctic Ocean, UNIS is well equipped with infrastructure for both marine and terrestrial field, lab and experimental research. UNIS is a highly interdisciplinary institution with four departments representing Biology, Geophysics, Geology and Technology. The Air-Cryosphere-Sea Interaction (ACSI) group at UNIS, lead by Prof. Frank Nilsen, treats the three most dominant geophysical components in the Arctic climate system on Svalbard. There is an urgent need to better understand the dynamical processes behind the variable heat transport to the Arctic, in both the atmosphere and the ocean, and the impact this has on freshwater fluxes from melting snow- and ice masses in the Arctic. These types of interaction studies are conducted through field based research projects and student course activity within the ACSI group at UNIS. Ongoing research activity and infrastructure in the Research Council of Norway project “Remote Sensing of Ocean Circulation and Environmental Mass Changes (REOCIRC)” (led by UNIS) will be brought into INTAROS and be further strengthened through the INTAROS network.

Role in the project

In WP3, Task 3.2, Bottom pressure recorders (BPR) will be deployed by UNIS on Yermak Plateau to investigate remotely sensed ocean circulation by taking advantage of satellite gravimetry and altimetry, and provide ground truth for satellite gravity solutions. The BPR sensors are placed at the edges of the ocean current in order to measure the pressure difference across the current. There are two main branches of interest and the most important one is the West Spitsbergen Current (WSC) that carries warm and saline Atlantic Water (AW) into the Arctic Ocean and the Coastal Current (CC) that transports fresh and cold Arctic Water (ArW) northwards along the coast. UNIS will analyze data, study the dynamics of these currents including air-ice-ocean forcing mechanisms, and combine the data sets with other INTAROS data set in order to understand the variability of the Arctic climate system.