WSL Magazine Diagonal No. 1/16
Focus Research XXL: nature as laboratory
February 2015: SLF researchers trigger three avalanches in Vallée de la
Sionne (canton of Valais) as part of a large-scale experiment. A pylon
equipped with sensors placed in the middle of the test site provides
important data for studying the speed, pressure and range of avalanches.
In addition to this site, WSL operates other unique test sites where
researchers study debris flows, rockfall and sediment transport in
streams and rivers under natural conditions. There are also major
long-term experiments underway in forests in order to better understand
processes in nature and adapt management methods accordingly.
- NATURE DETERMINES WHEN THINGS GET UNDERWAY
What happens inside a debris flow? When does a stream transport rock and debris? Large-scale experiments in mountain streams provide answers.
- ONE-TWO: FROM LARGE-SCALE EXPERIMENTS TO POP-UP TESTS
Controlled triggering of avalanches, measurement of debris flows and rock caught in protective nets – what for? An interview with Perry Bartelt, WSL, and Lorenz
Meier, Geopraevent, about large-scale experiments.
- FURNITURE INSTEAD OF FUELWOOD
WSL is conducting a large-scale experiment in the Ticino forest. The goal is to find a management method that makes chestnut wood economically attractive again.
The object: The Shear Apparatus (movie)
Before a slab avalanche occurs, small cracks and friction between the
snow grains generate noise. The shear apparatus allows researchers in
the lab to investigate the fracture process and the acoustic signals.
Research XXL: nature as laboratory
Some research requires lots of space, complicated instrumentation and plenty of time and money. The payoff of such large-scale experiments: great data that is very close to reality. The WSL carries out a whole series of XXL-projects.
- Alpine permafrost is rich in micro-organisms
- An automatic sound check for bats
- Use of genetic techniques to help protect endangered plants and animals
- Indigenous Scots pines germinate better than those from southern and eastern Europe
- Historic water channels as a long-term irrigation experiment
- Better structured forests mean fewer landslides
- A unique environmental archive: ancient wood stored in Swiss soil
- River and stream renaturalization as seen by the media
- A history of the Swiss landscape: a look back offers ideas for the future
- How effective is avalanche blasting? Scientists blow the lid
- A new assessment system for winter tours in the Jura
- Improving community resilience to natural hazards
Snow and ice
- Forest structure influences snow distribution
- Snow accumulates even on steep rock walls, influencing rock temperature
Arthur Gessler, biologist
Andreas Zurlinden, molecular biologist
Bettina Richter, meteorologist