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How much water gets lost in artificial snowmaking?
start of the 2016/17 winter season demonstrated once again that many sports
resorts depend on snowmaking for their livelihood. Large quantities of water
are consumed by the production of technical snow, especially at the beginning
of the skiing season. Snowmaking initially entails the dispersion of water at
high pressure to produce tiny droplets. As they fall to the ground, the
droplets cool and freeze to form tiny beads of ice.
no means all of the water ejected by snow cannon reappears as snow on the
ground – it is either carried away on the wind or undergoes evaporation or
sublimation. But what is the actual amount of this water loss? In order to
investigate this question, the SLF has now conducted initial snowmaking experiments
in Davos. The researchers compared the quantity of water delivered to the lance
to the amount of snow produced on the ground during a night of snowmaking. They
measured the volume of snow, as required to determine the mass, by way of
high-precision laser scanning at the start and end of the experiment. With the
aid of snow density measurements they used the snow volume to calculate the
amount of water contained in the snow. In addition, a weather station erected
alongside the snow cannon supplied all the relevant meteorological data,
including temperature, relative humidity and wind speed.
Initial results indicate that 15 to 40 percent of the water consumed in snowmaking is lost – values that are similar to those recorded in a study in France. The next step will involve the scientists mapping the water loss against the weather conditions and snowmaker settings, and extending the test series. They intend to use the gathered data to validate and improve their computer modelling of artificial snowmaking, draw conclusions about the most efficient use of snowmaking resources, and contribute to the further development of snowmaking technology.