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Snow Hydrology

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Head: Dr. Tobias Jonas

The research group «Snow Hydrology» investigates snow as a component of the hydrological cycle. In the Alps a significant percentage of precipitation comes in the form of snow. The timing of snow melt thus influences the annual dynamics of runoff from alpine watersheds. Of particular interest for our research is to enhance estimations of snow water resources and subsequent melt water discharge.

The research group covers a broad range of projects and methods. The latest measuring techniques are used to investigate snow distribution patterns in alpine terrain, e.g. laser scanning or radar technology. We use different types of numerical models to calculate snow water resources based on input data from meteorological monitoring networks. These models are being used to predict the consequences of climate change on the water balance of mountain watersheds. The models also constitute a valuable tool for our operational services, such as periodic snow hydrological bulletins, which contribute to the federal flood prevention and forecasting system.

The research group «Snow Hydrology» is based in Davos and ensures the link between other Davosian research groups and the research unit ”Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements” in Birmensdorf.



Snow-hydrological forecasting (OSHD)

Conducting ongoing analyses of the spatial and temporal distribution of snow water resources, the SLF's operational snow-hydrological service (OSHD)...

Snow in the forest

Both snow distribution and snow melt patterns are much more variable in the forest than in open terrain. We are examining the influence of the forest...


Flooding is caused by prolonged rainfall or heavy snowmelt, or a combination of these two events. Floods pose a threat to people, animals and...