Spring 2023 - EASC 314 D100

Principles of Glaciology (3)

Class Number: 1933

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5047, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Apr 14, 2023
    3:30 PM – 6:30 PM
    WMC 3253, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units, including MATH 152, PHYS 102 or 121 or 126 or 141, and any 100-level EASC course or permission of the instructor. Recommended: EASC 101. All with a grade of C- or better.



An introduction to the study of ice in the modern environment from a geophysical perspective, with a focus on glaciers and ice sheets. Topics include the physical and chemical properties of ice, glacier mass and energy balance, glacier and ice-sheet hydraulics and dynamics, fast ice flow and the relationship between ice and climate. Quantitative.


This course is an introduction to the study of ice in the environment from a quantitative geophysical perspective, with a specific focus on the terrestrial cryosphere (glaciers and ice sheets). The objectives of this course are to (1) illustrate how first principles can be used to develop a conceptual and mathematical understanding of glacier form and flow, and (2) equip students to understand some of the critical and emerging scientific issues related to Earth's cryosphere.

Course Topics (provisional):

1. Introduction to glaciology
2. Glacier formation and mass balance
3. Structure and material properties of ice
4. Deformation of ice
5. Glacier mechanics
6. Glacier hydraulics
7. Subglacial Processes
8. Ice sheets, ice streams and ice shelves
9. Surging and tidewater glaciers
10. Subglacial lakes and outburst floods

Course Organization:
Two hours of lecture and one 3-hour laboratory per week

Laboratory periods will be used for problem sets, computer-based assignments and discussions of readings.


  • Assessment in this course has been designed to be distributed both in time (throughout the semester) and in methodology (to provide a broadly-based overall assessment that targets the various learning objectives).
  • Exams: 25-40%
  • Problem Sets/Laboratory Exercises 25-50%
  • Written Summaries/discussion of readings 20-30%
  • Total 100%


EASC 101 or GEOG 111, Math 152 (with grade C or higher), PHYS 121 (with grade C or higher). Contact the instructor if you are interested in the course but do not have the pre-requisites.



Required readings will be distributed during the course.  


1.   The Physics of Glaciers, Kurt M. Cuffey and W.S.B. Paterson, 4th edition, Elsevier Publishing, 2010.

2.   Principles of Glacier Mechanics, R. LeB. Hooke, 2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2005.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/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