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Experimented field sites for natural hazards

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The WSL operates several unique instrumented field sites for mass movements. There researchers can investigate snow avalanches, debris flows, rockfall, and debris avalanches (or hillslope debris flows; Hangmuren in German) at a natural scale. The field sites are equipped with modern sensors, often developed at the WSL-SLF, which allow measurement of parameters such as flow speed, impact pressure, or shear stress, during an artificial release or a spontaneous natural event.

These data serve to increase our understanding of natural hazards processes. They also are used directly in various models (e.g. RAMMS), which are intended for use by practitioners and researchers for the analysis and evaluation of natural hazards and the production of hazards maps, as well as to support the development of hazard mitigation concepts.


Avalanche test site

The test site Vallée de la Sionne (VdlS) provides scientists and engineers with essential data to understand and model avalanche motion.

Bedload transport observatory

The WSL's bedload transport observatory is the source one of the longest time series of bedload observations in mountain streams world wide.

Debris flow installations

Automated observation installations to monitor debris flow events provide the real-life data needed to further develop prediction models.

Soil stability field sites

With the help of supporting structures, the plants have stabilised the field sites over almost 30 years and defied many a storm within that time.

Instrumented field sites for snow and ice

We have been measuring snow since 1935. Since then, the former igloo has made way for modern instrumented field sites near Davos and in the Valais.