Reflections in infrared

SLF researchers test a device developed in-house to identify layer boundaries in snow. Ultimately, the aim is to have the equipment mass produced for widespread use. A photo series. You can read more about the test day in the snow, the technology and how it works in the latest issue of DIAGONAL.



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The scientists packed around 40 kilograms of kit on their sledge. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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Physicists Benjamin Walter (right) and Lars Mewes carefully set down their apparatus in the Pischa cable car, which will transport them to an elevation of almost 2,500 metres. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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Once at the top, the researchers look for a suitable spot for their test... (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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…then lug and push their equipment through the snow… (photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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...before reaching their destination, a snowfield below the Pischagrat. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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The pair dig to a depth of around 1.3 metres until they hit the frozen ground. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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For their test, they need a straight snow wall, a snow profile free from bumps and dents. Walter starts by sawing,… (photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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…then shovels aside blocks of snow,… (photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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...smooths the wall with a flat shovel,... (photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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…and finishes off with some dainty brushwork. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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The prototype of the snow imager, which the scientists use to detect the layer boundaries. The infrared light is reflected differently by the snow depending on the density and nature of the layer. The plan is to produce a much handier final version of the product, to be manufactured by a Davos-based firm. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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Mewes measures in several steps from bottom to top,… (photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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…while Walter shields out the intense sunlight to avoid distorting the results. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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The two scientists then disappear together under a sheet… (photo: Bruno Augsburger)
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…to examine their measurement results on the computer. (Photo: Bruno Augsburger)



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