Fall 2017 - EASC 605 G100

Advanced Glaciology (3)

Class Number: 8374

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Location: TBA

  • Prerequisites:

    Permission of instructor.



An advanced introduction to theoretical glaciology within a continuum mechanical framework. The course focuses on fundamentals of glacier and ice-sheet flow and the key surface and subsurface processes that drive them, Course content includes a brief review of tensor analysis and continuum mechanics, glacier mass and energy balance, the material properties and rheology of ice, the basic equations of glacier deformation, ice-sheet and shelf flow, basal processes, glacier hydrology, and unstable modes of flow.


Provisional Course Topics:
1. Tensor analysis & introduction to continuum mechanics
2. Glacier mass and energy balance
3. Fundamentals of glacier flow
4. Glacier hydrology
5. Basal processes
6. Unstable flow

Instructional Methods:
Two 1.5-hour sessions or one 3-hour session per week divided between lecture and presentation/discussion of readings. Course participants will rotate through acting as the discussion leader, presenting a summary of the week’s readings and facilitating the discussion. Homework assignments will be based on the lecture component of the course and will involve analytical and numerical problem solving using Matlab. The final project may be either a literature review or an analytical project on a subject of interest to the student. The final exam is oral and will be based on the reading of Paterson (required text).


  • Weekly written summaries of course readings 20-30%
  • Homework assignments (2-3) 15-30%
  • Final Exam (Oral) 20-30%
  • Final Project 20-35%


No prior knowledge of glaciology is assumed, but students should have a reasonable grasp of classical mechanics, vector calculus, linear algebra and differential equations as background. This course is intended for any graduate-level student interested in the deformation of natural materials and ice in the environment.



Required Text (required readings will be handed out in class):
The Physics of Glaciers, K.M. Cuffey and W.S.B. Paterson, 4th edition, Elsevier, 2010.

Recommended Texts:
1. Fundamentals of Glacier Dynamics, C.J. van der Veen, A.A. Balkema Publishers, Rotterdam, therlands,1999.
2. Principles of Glacier Mechanics, R. LeB. Hooke, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2005.
3. Mass Balance of the Cryosphere, J.L. Bamber and A.J. Payne, Ist edition, Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html