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Modeling

What is a model?

One of the goals of scientific research is to explain past observations, control natural processes or predict future outcomes. For example, researchers study past avalanches in order to improve their understanding of avalanches processes. This not only leads to improved avalanche forecasting but also brings solutions to unforseen applications, for example how to better protect an important communication link.
Avalanches are, like many natural phenomenas, very complex and involve many different and interconnected components. This makes it very difficult to understand such a phenomena in its entirety. Usually, not all aspects of such a phenomena are equally important for a particular question. It is therefore often possible and beneficial to simplify and abstract the reality in order to make it more convenient to handle. This is what is called a model.

Models range from simple schematics all the way to large computer programs running on supercomputers, depending on the goals of the models and their chosen level of complexity. In order to develop a model, one must first define the right balance of simplification and accuracy for every aspect and property of the phenomena of interest. Afterward the relationships between the diferent components as well as their evolution laws will be defined. Most often, these laws are expressed in the form of equations.

RAMMS Lawine 2 klein    
Modeling of an avalanche
   

What kind of models exist?

Depending on the modeling approach, different categories of models can be defined, for example:

  • the physically-based models: the different components of the model are governed by the laws of physics. This requires their in-depth study.
  • the statistical models: a large amount of data is used to establish statistical relationships between the different components of the model.

Today, models are very widely used: from meteorology (weather forecast) to public health (the propagation of epidemia), from  the economy (the impact of a new tax) to construction work (the design of new buildings) or from chemistry (the study of pollution) to the environmental sciences.

Modeling at the SLF

At the SLF too models are becoming more and more important and represent now a very significant part of the research performed at the institute.
The SLF uses models in order to

  • study the development of the snow cover and its exchanges its the surroundings
  • quantify the changes in the permafrost
  • better understand the processes of natural hazards
  • predict the runout of avalanches
  • evaluate the water resources contained in the snowpack
The SLF develops the following models:
RAMMS - RApid Mass Movement System
RAMMS

Avalanches, debris flows and rockfalls are everyday occurrences in the mountains. RAMMS is a software package that allows these natural hazard processes to be evaluated and facilitates an assessment of the influences of protective measures.

Available languages: German  English  French  Italian 

SNOWPACK
SNOWPACK

SNOWPACK is a snow cover model developed primarily for the purpose of avalanche warning. It's strength is the description of the snow cover layering and snow microstructure. Because of its accurate mass- and energy balance, SNOWPACK is also increasingly used for climatological research.

Available languages: German  English 

Alpine3D
Alpine3D

Alpine3D is a spatially distributed (surface), three dimensional (atmospheric) model for analyzing and predicting dynamics of snow-dominated surface processes in mountainous topography. It includes models for snow cover, vegetation and soil, snow transport, radiation transfer and runoff which can be enabled or disabled on demand.

Available languages: German  English 

Alpine3D
Alpine3D

Alpine3D is a spatially distributed (surface), three dimensional (atmospheric) model for analyzing and predicting dynamics of snow-dominated surface processes in mountainous topography. It includes models for snow cover, vegetation and soil, snow transport, radiation transfer and runoff which can be enabled or disabled on demand.

Available languages: German  English 

MeteoIO: A Meteorological Data Pre-Processing Library for Numerical Models
MeteoIO

The MeteoIO library has been designed to improve the I/O routines of models. It is an additional layer between the data and the numerical model, handling the retrieval of data from various data sources as well as the data pre-processing.

Available languages: German  English 

Modeling of avalanche release processes
Modeling of avalanche release processes

Models can help us to better understand the driving parameters of avalanche release. We use two main kinds of models: Continuous models based on the finite element method and discontinuous models based on the discrete element method.

Available languages: English 

Model of the OSHD  
OSHD_Models The OSHD (operational snow hydrological service at SLF) simulates snow and melt utilizing a modeling framework that integrates different snow melt models with observed snow data using data assimilation techniques.

Available languages: German English French

   
AVAL-1D  
AVAL1D AVAL-1D is a numerical avalanche dynamics program. It can compute runout distances and the speed and pressure patterns that arise in dense flow and powder avalanches.

Available languages: German English

   
ProNXD  
ProNXD ProNXD ist eine kartengestützte Webapplikation und löst NXD2000 ab. Ereignisse wie Lawinen und Sprengungen können einfach und rasch erfasst und mit geografischen Daten verbunden werden.

Available languages: German French Italian