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4th Snow Science Winter School



11-17 February 2018, Col du Lautaret, France


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 4th 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. You will learn:

  • State-of-the-art snow measurement techniques
  • Understanding the physical processes responsible for the evolution of the snowpack
  • Understanding vertically resolved snowpack models (Crocus, SNOWPACK) and larger scale land-surface models

Target audience

Any graduate student or post-doc working on snow or in some snow related field, this year especially in remote sensing of the cryosphere, is welcome to participate. Those fields include everybody interested in cryospheric sciences. 

Course structure

The focus of this workshop lies on alpine snowpacks, field measurements and snowpack models 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, and a comparison between field measurements and snow modelling results.

The course corresponds to 3 ETCS-Points. The winter school is listed in the coursebook of the doctoral school at EPFL Lausanne. To receive full credit, a report taking 40 hours of homework must be written, based on the measurements during the course.


The course will be at Col du Lautaret in the buildings of the "Station Alpine Joseph Fourier" (N 45°02.112', E 6°24.064, 2100 m a.s.l) with direct access to field sites. The research facilities are working in summer as in winter time, and devoted to research projects or university trainings and courses (ecology, physiology, soil, water, snow, physics of the atmosphere, geology, landscapes, human sciences...). The platform is a part of the ANAEE-facilities project "Analysis and experimentations on ecosystems" coordinated by CNRS, INRA, and Université Grenoble Alpes. The location is ideal for atmospheric and environmental research in the alpine zone. Snow cover at the site persists typically from October to May, making the site very well suited also for snow-related studies.

Course cost

300 euros including accommodation, meals and social events


Due to the limited number of places, admission to the course is a two-step process:

1. Application closed on November 7, 2017.

2. Registration - You will receive an invitation for registration, based on the evaluation made by the committee, until November 20, 2017. Please register until November 30, 2017 otherwise your place will be given to another applicant.

For questions send an email to


As the course is to a great extent based on field work, proper clothing is essential. Participants should:

  1. bring their 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 and health insurance

The local organization is with the Météo-France - CNRS, CNRM/ Snow research center (CEN), Grenoble, France

Martin Schneebeli (, Marie Dumont (

The Snow Science Winter Schools are joint project of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, and Météo-France-CNRS-CNRM.

Administrative questions and contact information

snowschool(at)slfto make life hard for spam (please use subject: Information about SSWS 2018)


Administrative questions and contact information

snowschool(at)slfto make life hard for spam (please use subject: Information about SSWS 2018)

Preliminary program

  • Sunday (13:00 CET): Arrival, welcome, group building and safety information (obligatory)
  • Monday: Field practice and lectures in class room; social event
  • Tuesday: Lecture and field practice with field equipment
  • Wednesday: Lectures and field measurements
  • Thursday: Lectures and field measurements
  • Friday: Interactive session with the lecturers: comparing snow model outputs and field measurements, social event
  • Saturday: Departure

Travel Information

The snow school site is located at 3 hours by car from Lyon international airport (LYS) and 2 hours by car from Grenoble train station. Private shuttles will be used to transport the students and lecturers from Grenoble to Col du Lautaret.

Joint Event

The first Snow Microwave Radiative Transfer (SMRT) model training workshop will take place from 8th-11th February 2018 at the same location. SMRT is a new active/passive microwave model developed  in the framework of an ESA project to 1) explore the role of snow microstructure and 2) to unify and inter-compare ingredients from existing model/theories (MEMLS, DMRT-QMS, HUT, ...). The aim of this workshop is to provide a general introduction to snow microwave modelling, and discuss recent model developments facilitated by improved snow microstructure measurement techniques. Participants will have an opportunity to learn how to use the SMRT model and compare different modelling approaches (e.g. IBA, DMRT, ...).