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2nd Snow Science Winter School

14-20 February 2016, Preda and Davos, Switzerland

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The cryosphere forms an integral part of the climate system of the Earth. Measuring the properties of the seasonal and perennial snow cover properties is therefore essential in understanding interactions and feedback mechanisms related to the cryosphere.

Snow is a extremely complex and highly variable medium, and all essential properties of seasonal snow cover are challenging to measure. Diverse fields such as hydrology, climatology, avalanche forecasting and Earth Observation from space benefit from improved quantification of snow cover properties, in particular related to the snow microstructure.

The past 10 years snow science has seen a rapid change from a semi-quantitative to a quantitative science. Understanding physical and chemical processes in the snowpack requires detailed measurements of the microstructure.

The 2nd Snow Science Winter School will teach these advanced techniques, as micro-tomography, measurement of specific surface area by reflection and spectroscopy, near-infrared photography and high-resolution penetrometry.

Target audience

Any graduate student or post-doc working on snow or in some snow related field is welcome to participate. Those fields include Glaciology, Hydrology, Oceanography, Geography, but also Biology or Chemistry as well as Engineering or Material Sciences.

Course structure

The focus of this workshop lies on field and laboratory measurements, combined with theoretical lessons in the classroom.

Field and laboratory measurements will be done in small groups of 3-4 students. Each group of students will have to prepare a report describing the methods, results and interpretation. The laboratory measurements (micro-CT, thin section, fabric analysis) will take place in Davos.

The course corresponds to 3 ETCS-Points.


The housing will be in Preda with direct access to the field sites. Davos is a 1h 30 picturesque train ride. Transport from Zurich or Zurich Airport to Preda is most easy by train. Preda can be reached in winter by train only. 

Course cost and funding

approx 400-500 CHF including

  • Full accommodation at Preda (including breakfast, field lunch and dinner) from Sunday, Feb. 14 - Saturday, Feb. 20 2016
  • Train transport Preda - Davos during the laboratory day
  • Rental snow shoes for field trip

Special funding support

Full funding of the course cost is eligible for 10-12 students from member countries of the Arctic Council (Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, United States) by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, with first preference to indigenous persons.

HarmoSnow (COST ES1404, make full funding available for 5-8 students from COST inclusiveness countries (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Serbia and Turkey)

Please indicate in the application when you plan to apply for one of these funding possibilities.

Application is now closed


Preda is a train station and a few houses from the entrance of the Albula tunnel; part of the UNESCO World Heritage Rhaetian Railway line. Preda lies at 1800 m in the Easthern part of the Swiss alps. Temperatures in February may drop to -25°C, and the snow cover is on average 1-2 m deep. We will have easy and safe access to a variety of different types of the alpine snowpack within walking distance, however, a good physical constitution is necessary. As the course is to a great extent based on fieldwork, proper clothing is essential. Participants should:

  1. bring your own winter gear (warm and wind-proof clothing (onion principle), snow boots, thick gloves/mittens, warm underwear etc)
  2. be healthy enough to undertake the field day (2-3 hour hiking with snow shoes)
  3. have a valid travel insurance

The organization is with the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland.

Martin Schneebeli (, Neige Calonne (


Contact information

Preliminary program

  • Sunday: Arrival
  • Monday: Lectures & classroom and field practice with field equipment; social event (ice breaker)
  • Tuesday: Lectures and basic field and laboratory experiment techniques
  • Wednesday: Lectures and basic field and laboratory experiment techniques
  • Thursday: Lectures and basic field and laboratory experiment techniques
  • Friday: Lectures and basic field and laboratory experiment techniques
  • Saturday: Departure

Travel Information

Preda can not be reached by car in winter. For train schedule and online tickets, please cunsult