The SLF is an interdisciplinary research and service centre located in Davos. Around 180 researchers study snow, the atmosphere, natural hazards, permafrost and mountain ecological systems and develop innovative products which put their knowledge to practical use.
The SLF is part of the WSL, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, and therefore belongs to the ETH domain. The SLF researches various aspects related to snow, such as how it is built up and how it changes under various conditions, with the objective of learning how weak layers are formed in the snowpack or how materials – for example, skis – can best glide over snow. Another core competence of the SLF is researching how avalanches occur and how they move over terrain. The SLF also researches other natural hazards with similar processes, such as debris flow and rockfall, as well as permafrost and mountain ecological systems. The researchers additionally strive to optimise protective measures in the interest of integral risk management.
The SLF also provides various services, including the Avalanche Bulletin, advice on avalanche protection measures, expert opinions on avalanche accidents, and is active in the development of warning systems for natural hazards.
The SLF has a long history of linking science to practical applications and public relations. The SLF has enjoyed the benefits of having research and application under the same roof since 1945, when the avalanche warning service was relocated from the Swiss Army to the SLF.