5th Snow Science Winter School

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 5th 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.

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 5th Snow Science Winter School will teach:

  • 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

350 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 - You will first apply to the course by filling the online application form. Applications will close on October 30, 2018, 24:00 UCT. The applications will be judged by a committee (Juha Lemmetyinen, Marie Dumont, Martin Schneebeli). The link to the application will be here.

2. Registration - You will receive an invitation for registration, based on the evaluation made by the committee, until November 15, 2018. Please register until November 30, 2018 otherwise your place will be given to another applicant.

For questions send an email to snowschool@slf.ch

Course details

Academic level(s)Master,PhD
Language of instruction
InstitutionWSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Begin date17.02.2019
End date23.02.2019
Registration deadline30.10.2018
ECTS credits3.0
Field schoolYes
Fields of studyPhysical science (broad programmes)
Teaching placeHailuoto, Finland
Tagsfield schoolsnowcryospherewinter school
Find out more