Snow measurements provide important input for our avalanche bulletins, but we also use them for climatological analyses and make them available to the public.
Across the Alpine area, we operate an extensive network of over a hundred manual measuring stations at which our observers record fresh snowfall and snow depth every day between October and May. Some stations have existed for over a century, and we have an almost uninterrupted data series from the Weissfluhjoch test site going back to 1936. Such measurements help us to assess the current avalanche risk. We also use them to investigate natural fluctuations in snowfall and the effects of climate change on the snowpack.
Data for the public
We collect measurement data on a long-term basis and supply it to the public on request. For example, engineering firms designing avalanche barriers can find out about the quantities of snow expected in a region and thus determine the required height of the structures.
In addition to the manual stations, the SLF, together with the cantons, has been operating around a hundred automatic snow measuring stations belonging to the Intercantonal Measurement and Information System (IMIS) at altitudes of between 2000 and 3000 m since 1996. These automatically record the snow depth and other meteorological parameters around the clock. The latest measurements are available to all interested parties.
More recently, we have increasingly been supplementing these measurements with remote sensing data from drones, aircraft and satellite, in order to determine the spatial distribution of snow cover.