Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2024/25 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

SOEE5515M Ice in the Earth System

15 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Dr Lauren Gregoire

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

A Level Mathematics OR Physics OR approved Level 1 Maths/Physics equivalent

This module is mutually exclusive with

GEOG3669The Cryosphere
SOEE3515Ice in the Earth System

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The cryosphere (comprising snow, sea ice and glaciers) plays an important role in the Earth System, by driving, as well as responding to, global changes. You will engage with current debates in the research literature to improve your understanding of contemporary distributions of snow cover, sea ice, glaciers and ice sheets, and place this within the longer-term context of the past and future evolution of the Earth system and climate. You will explore the primary controls of cryospheric change, and identify the feedbacks that are accelerating these changes in a warming climate. You will also develop skills in remote sensing to assess changes in the cryosphere and forecast its future evolution. By critically examining these data you will also gain understanding of their limitations and how uncertainty in predictions is handled in practical terms.


The objectives of this module are:

1. To establish the past and current distribution of snow, sea ice and glaciers and the role they play within the Earth system
2. To identify the global controls of cryospheric change and the specific processes that will determine its evolution on a local scale

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, the student will gain an understanding of:

- The role of sea ice, snow and glaciers within the Earth system and its interaction with climate
- How the cryosphere has evolved over long (tens of thousands of years) timescales.
- Recent changes in the cryosphere, what caused them and the processes that will drive the future evolution of sea ice, glaciers, ice sheets and sea level.

Students will also learn a range of data analysis techniques used to evaluate changes in glaciers, sea ice and ice sheets, providing them with a deeper understanding of our knowledge of current and future changes in the cryosphere.

Skills outcomes
Numerical interpretation and presentation of data.


Semester 1:

Lectures will cover a range of topics related to ice in the earth system, which may include:
The role of ice within the Earth system.
Fundamental principles of the cryosphere.
Sea ice.
Mountain glaciers.
Past ice sheets.
Observing the current health of the ice sheets.
Future changes in the cryosphere.

During the practical sessions, students will analyse up to date observational data of sea ice and ice sheets to reinforce and develop concepts learn in the lectures and to learn techniques used to analyse and interpret cryosphere data.

Semester 2:

The second part of the module will comprise 2, four-hour practical sessions. One of these practicals will be assessed. These practicals will allow more in-depth understanding of topics covered in lectures as well as developed data analysis and research skills. Semester 2 practicals may cover a range of possible topics including:

Mapping glacial geomorphology
Glacier surface elevation analysis
Glacier ice surface velocity
Surface Energy Balance modelling
Ice-marginal lake interactions

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours124.00
Total Contact hours26.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Common with level 3: 82 hours to include: 4 hours reading per lecture, 18 hours preparation, analysis and write up of computer practical, 16 hours revision for assessment.

Additional requirements for level 5: 42 hours in Semester 2 to include: 5 hours per practical for preparation, analysis and reflection, 5 hours per practical for wider reading in related subject matter, 10 hours of data analysis for assessment, 12 hours reading/writing for assessment.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Written feedback on each of the assignments will be provided.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 * 1200 word essay30.00
Computer ExerciseComputer workshop assessed report (1,200 words)30.00
Practical ReportPractical report (2,000 word) with associated digital files40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

The re-sit for this module will be by an essay only.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 23/04/2024


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2019