A Trip to Iceland to Study Ice

Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Since June 17, 14 Department of Geography students have been on a big adventure as part of their glaciology course. Under the supervision of Professor Luke Copland and technical expert Jean Bjornson, they are showing what they know on the south coast of Iceland, and will be doing so to June 25.   


Photo by Jean Bjornson

GEG4100, a bilingual course, allows students to study ice and snow in the field. “Iceland is the ideal destination because it’s accessible.  It’s easy for us to reach the glaciers and work on them,” says Bjornson.  But this academic trip isn’t for everyone. “The students with us have a certain academic background that will allow them to enjoy, understand and learn from this experience,” Bjornson explains. “This isn’t a sightseeing trip … You need students who enjoy contact with nature and aren’t afraid to face harsh weather.” Despite its spectacular beauty, Iceland is rough, and winds can sometimes reach up to 100 km/h on the glaciers.

While it’s a study trip, the globetrotters will have the chance to enjoy all of Iceland’s beauty, such as black sandy beaches, volcanoes and geysers.  Camping and sea canoeing are also planned. Aside from boosting their CVs, an adventure like this is a golden opportunity for students to learn more about themselves, as Bjornson says. “A large proportion of our field course students decide to continue on to a master’s.”

It’s rather unusual for a university’s geography department to be part of an arts faculty, but Bjornson sees it as a positive. “It’s very rewarding. The diverse profile of our students improves our department and means they have a more holistic approach to the subject.”

Copland and Bjornson have been a team for many years. Bjornson says that they’ve got a unique chemistry and that it’s always a pleasure to accompany the renowned Copland on his projects.  With such enthusiastic and seasoned guides, discovering Iceland and studying its frozen landscape should be an unforgettable experience!


Photo by Jean Bjornson



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