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Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements

Dr. Manfred Stähli

Geschiebemessanlage Albula Tiefencastel

The Research Unit investigates natural hazard processes in mountainous areas, in particular the triggering and propagation of floods, sediment transport, landslides, debris flows and rock fall. Process studies on the scale of slopes, channels and catchments form the basis for the development of simulation models and of hazard assessment procedures and for the design of countermeasures. To this end worldwide unique observation systems are developed, such as a debris flow balance and geophone systems for bedload transport. Damage and damaging processes due to frequent and extreme events are assessed as prerequisites for the risk-based and sustainable management of natural hazards.

A second focus of the unit is on the estimation and prediction of snow and water resources, e.g. for hydropower production or early recognition of drought. The unit operates a snow hydrological service for federal and cantonal agencies and a drought information platform for a broad range of water users.


Very impressive videos of two study areas: flash flood on the Töss (© by C. Hunkeler) and enormous debris flow in the Illgraben (© by P. Zufferey):


13 June, 2016: Visit of a delegation of the Research Center on Mountain Torrent & Geologic Disaster Prevention, Wuhan, China, at WSL. (Foto)

9 June, 2016: Detailed information about our supersize research failities in the 1/2016 issue of the WSL Magazine DIAGONAL.

2 June, 2016: Verena Eichenberger receives the best student poster award at Interpraevent 2016.

Recent publications

19 May 2016: New publication "Could dams replace glaciers in the European Alps?" in Environmental Research Letters. (News message)

20 Nov 2015: Publication on carbon discharge by a mountain stream in Geology.

17 Aug 2015: Publication on glacier mass loss in the Tien Shan in Nature Geoscience. (WSL-News)


FE Gebirgshydrologie WSL Sommer 2014