SIOS training course on Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles in Svalbard (UAV4Svalbard)

This autumn SIOS offers a training course on how to effectively use UAVs in Svalbard research. The training will be delivered by UAV experts from SIOS member institutions, international researchers, and experts from the industry.

  • Time: 4 - 8 September 2023
  • Location: Longyearbyen, Svalbard
  • Application deadline: 15 April 2023  (Extended to 30 April)

The goal of the course is to teach participants the basic skills needed to use UAVs in Svalbard. 

Target audience

The course is intended for scientists, master/Ph.D. students and technicians with no or modest experience with UAVs in their research.

Those who have not used UAVs before are preferable. 

Course objectives

General objectives

Due to the relatively fast and easy data acquisition, low cost and high data resolution, UAVs have become a popular instrument in environmental studies. SIOS member institutions use drones in a range of research projects across Svalbard. However, scientists may lack the necessary training required to fly drones and/or process the data. PhD students from SIOS member institutions who are about to begin careers can especially benefit from this training course. 

This course will consist of following activities:

  • Theoretical lecture series
  • Hands-on, demo and practice sessions
  • Field excursion and social events
  • Mini-projects

Learning objectives

At the conclusion of the educational activities (4-8 September 2023) and the following mini-projects; 

  • you should achieve basic/beginner’s understanding of the applicability of UAVs in Svalbard/Arctic research. 

  • you should develop knowledge and understanding of how drones and associated datasets can benefit your research. 

  • you should be able to plan your own drone-based fieldwork in Svalbard and arctic environments.  

  • you should be able to use SfM methods for post-processing images to create 3D data products.  

  • you should be able to safely conduct drone flights within the applicable regulations in Svalbard. 

  • you should know of more sophisticated methods of drone usage.

  • you should be able to demonstrate understanding of potential advanced applications of drone technologies to arctic research questions. 

  • you should develop the knowledge/expertise to carry out your own drone-based field campaigns. 

  • you should develop mini-projects or pilot applications using UAV data.

Confirmed teachers
  • Richard Hann, NTNU - Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Clare Webster, University of Oslo
  • Peter Betlem, The University Centre in Svalbard
Tentative timeline

Pre-training course activities

  • Application period: 1 March – 30 April 2023
  • Review of applications: 30 April - 15 May 2023
  • Decision on selection: by 7 June 2023
  • Final selections from the waiting list after cancellations: 20 June 2023
  • Sharing practical information (travel, software and hardware requirements): 30 June 2023

Training course activities

  • Course dates: 4 - 8 September 2023 (starting Monday morning, ending Friday at lunchtime to allow flight departure the same day).
  • Course schedule: coming soon

Post Training activities (Virtual)

  • Mini-projects: 10 September - 10 October 2023
  • Mini-project presentation: by 15 October 2023
  • Project summary and report deadline: 1 December 2023
Application procedure
  • The course is available for applicants from all institutions, but employees and students from SIOS member institutions will be prioritised  (Is my institution a member of SIOS?).
  • There are no course fees. Participants must cover their own expenses on travel and accommodation in Longyearbyen
  • Employees and students from SIOS member institutions can apply for partial support for travel and accommodation (actual costs up to 6 000 NOK/participant from European/Nordic SIOS member institutions and up to 12 000 NOK/participant from Asian SIOS member institutions).
  • Each SIOS member institution has one place guaranteed - provided an application is received. If no application from a SIOS member institution is received, the allocated place is forfeit and may be allocated to an applicant from another institution.
  • Application period: 1 March – 30 April 2023


Practical information

This list will be updated.

  • The training course is free of charge. Participants must cover their own expenses on travel and accommodation in Longyearbyen
  • Course participants are expected to bring their own laptops
  • SIOS will cover one networking dinner and all lunches/coffee breaks during the training course
  • Software requirements will be communicated in June
Task force

This training course is organised by a task force comprised of the following members:

  • Richard Hann - NTNU  

  • Clare Webster – University of Oslo 

  • William Harcourt – Aberdeen University 

  • Sara Aparício - Solenix for ESA/NOVA University of Lisbon 

  • Zuzanna Swirad, IG-PAS  

  • Shridhar Jawak - SIOS-KC