Link zu WSL Hauptseite Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL


WEBINAR on YOUTUBE on "Operational Forecasting at WSL"

March 2017

von Freyberg, J., Studer, B., and Kirchner, J. W.: A lab in the field: high-frequency analysis of water quality and stable isotopes in stream water and precipitation, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 21, 1721-1739, doi:10.5194/hess-21-1721-2017, 2017.

December 2016

Badoux A, Andres N, Techel F, Hegg Ch. 2016. Natural hazard fatalities in Switzerland from 1946 to 2015, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 279-294, doi:10.5194/nhess-16-2747-2016.

October 2016

Braud I, M Borga, J Gourley, M Hürlimann, M Zappa, F Gallart. 2016. Flash floods, hydro-geomorphic response and risk management (Editorial). Journal of Hydrology, Volume 541, Part A, Pages 1–5

Gehring E, Pezzatti BG, Krebs P, Mazzoleni S, Zappa M, Conedera M. 2016.  The influence of site characteristics on the leaf-to-sapwood area relationship in chestnut trees (Castanea sativa Mill.). Trees, 30(6), 2217-2226.

July 2016

Andres N, Lieberherr G, Sideris IV, Jordan F, Zappa M. 2016. From calibration to real-time operations: an assessment of three precipitation benchmarks for a Swiss river system. Met. Apps, 23: 448–461. doi: 10.1002/met.1569

Antonetti M, Buss R, Scherrer S, Margreth M, Zappa M. 2016. Mapping dominant runoff processes: an evaluation of different approaches using similarity measures and synthetic runoff simulations, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 2929-2945, doi:10.5194/hess-20-2929-2016

June 2016

Melsen L, Teuling A, Torfs P, Zappa M, Mizukami N, Clark M, and Uijlenhoet R. 2016. Representation of spatial and temporal variability in large-domain hydrological models: case study for a mesoscale pre-Alpine basin, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 2207-2226, doi:10.5194/hess-20-2207-2016

Bjoernsen Gurung A, Borsdorf A,  Füreder L, Kienast F, Matt P, Scheidegger C, Schmocker L, Zappa M, Volkart K. 2016. Rethinking Pumped Storage Hydropower in the European Alps. Mountain Research and Development, 36(2):222-232. DOI:

May 2016

Farinotti D, Pistocchi A, Huss M. 2016. From dwindling ice to headwater lakes: Could dams replace glaciers in the European Alps? Environ. Res. Lett., 11 054022, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054022

March 2016

Bogner K, Liechti K, Zappa M. 2016. Post-Processing of Stream Flows in Switzerland with an Emphasis on Low Flows and Floods. Water, 8(4), 115; doi:10.3390/w8040115

Andres, N., Badoux, A., Hegg, C. (2016): Unwetterschäden in der Schweiz im Jahre 2015. Rutschungen, Murgänge, Hochwasser und Sturzereignisse. Wasser Energie Luft, 108. Jg., Heft 1: 1-8.

see also press release


Hydrological Forecasts

Dr. Massimiliano Zappa

Flooded plain close to Magadino in the canton of Ticino 1993 (photo: K. Liechti, WSL)

The research group «Hydrological Forecasts» investigates the spatio-temporal distribution and variability of the available natural water resources in mountainous basins and in larger alpine river systems.

A particular focus will be put on the analysis of extreme situations such as floods [Dossier Floods, in German] and persisting droughts [Dossier Drought]. This is achieved by both analysis of previous events (e.g. the flood of August 2005 in Switzerland) and investigations with simulations and statistical evaluation of long term data series.

The group develops models and operational system for flood warning in gauges and ungauged basins [Teaser]. Thereby we try to improve the quality of hydrological forecasts by assimilation of updated observations (e.g. snow cover maps and runoff volumes).

Furthermore distributed hydrological simulations are adopted for estimating possible hydrological impacts of climate change [Dossier Climate Change, in German].

In addition WSL updates since more than 40 years a database containing a detailed description of the major damages triggered by hydrological hazards. These records could represent an important source of information for the assessment of hydrology related hazards maps.

The Research Group contributes to studies to optimize the prediction of snow and water resources for hydro-power plants.

Sihlhochwasser im Juni 2013 (150 m3/s)
Flood of the Shil river (photo: WSL)


  • Operational flood forecasting for the Sihl and the Ticino rivers
    Contact: M. Zappa
  • IFKIS-HYDRO – Regional Flood Warning for Mountainous Basins
    Contact: M. Zappa
  • DROUGHT-CH - A NRP61-Project on "Early recognition of critical drought conditions in Switzerland - coping with shortages in soil moisture, groundwater and runoff"
    Contact: L. Bernhard, S. Jörg-Hess, M. Zappa
  • PACC-PERU -Climate Change Adaptation Plan in Peru
    Kontakt: M. Zappa, N. Andres
  • Swiss flood and landslide damage database
    Contact: N. Andres
  • Influence of Climate Change on the Water Cycle in Forest Ecosystems - A Plausibility Analysis
    Contact: L. Bernhard
  • "Swiss Study Guide" - Overview on education on natural hazards in Switzerland
    Contact: N. Andres
  • HEPS4Power - Extended-range Hydrometeorological Ensemble Predictions for Improved Hydropower Operations and Revenues
    Contact: K. Bogner, M. Zappa
  • Decadal hydro-glaciological forecasts for the Swiss hydropower sector in high mountain catchments
    Contact: D. Farinotti
  • SREP-DROUGHT - Snow resources and the early prediction of hydrological drought in mountainous streams
    Contact: L. Bernhard, M. Zappa
  • Automated Remote Measurement of Flash-Flood Discharge in Mountain Torrents
    Contact: K. Liechti
  • Process-based runoff generation approach for hydrological models
    Contact: M. Zappa

Ongoing Thesis

  • MsC (scheduled) Simon Marty. "Hydrological modelling of three mesoscale European basins: Evaluation against field observations of runoff, snowpack and environmental isotopes". Prof. Schär, ETH
  • MsC (scheduled) Carina Pfeuffer. "Application of a process-based runoff generation module in poorly gauged areas of the Peruvian Andes". Prof. Disse, UNI München.
  • MsC (scheduled) Josua Surber. "Including snow-hydrology in evaluation of extreme floods in the Linth basin (Glarus, Switzerland)". Prof Seibert. UNI Zürich.
  • BsC: Nadine Feiger
  • MsC: Fabio Fasel. Automatic runoff measurements as triggered by water level observations and weather radar information – Prof. Hauck, UniFR. Project: HWMobil
  • MsC: Madlaina Juvalta. Früherkennung von Trockenheit in der Schweiz: Analyse des Hitzesommers 2015 - Prof. Seibert, UZH
  • MsC (scheduled) Christoph Horat. Adding hydrological knowledge to IDF-based flash-flood warnings. Prof. Wernlli, ETH. Project: Flood forecasting for the canton of Ticino
  • PHD: Saskia Gindraux, Glaciology and Close Remote-Sensing (tentative title), Prof. K. Steffen, WSL
  • PHD: Manuel Antonetti, Prozessbasiertes Abflussbildungsmodul für konzeptionelle und physikalisch fundierte hydrologische Modelle (tentative title), Prof. J. Seibert - Universität Zürich.
  • PHD: Samuel Monhart, Monats- und saisonale hydrometeorologische Ensemblevorhersagesysteme zur verbesserten Wasserkraftnutzung (tentative title), Prof. Ch. Schär, ETH.
  • PHD: Andrea Rücker, Impact of snow on drought (tentative title), Prof. James Kirchner, WSL/ETH.
  • PHD: Matthias Speich: FORHYCS - WSL, Prof. James Kirchner, WSL/ETH.
Open Bachelor/Master Thesis
  • MsC: A parsimonious methodology for selecting promising days for discharge measurements in flashy areas – Project: HWMobil
  • MsC: Hydrometric value, a new measure for guiding runoff measurement in field – Project: HWMobil
  • MsC: Scenarios of mean water resources for the river network of Switzerland – Project: CCHydro - [More]
  • MsC: Evaluating block-boostrapping techniques for the transient simulation of water resources in climate change context: CCHydro - Climate Change Adaptation Plan in Peru