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Longterm investigation of torrent catchments in the Alptal

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For almost fifty years the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL has been investigating small torrential catchments in the pre-alpine valley Alptal, located in central Switzerland. In the beginning, the main aim was to improve the understanding of flood formation in such first-order catchments and the role of the forest in this context.

Later, the hydrological research in the Alptal valley focused on ecological and geomorphological questions also. For example, the water quality of the torrents and nitrogen deposition and export of the forest ecosystem have been monitored for decades. In all of these studies a particular attention has been payed to the snow cover in this pre-alpine area. Recently, the Alptal site has become an international hotspot for the investigation of bedload transport, geomorphology, runoff formation and isotope dynamics of torrent catchments.

The extensive new knowledge from the research in the Alptal valley has been presented in national and international publications. The data are available on request available to other researchers.



  • A new dataset with daily Stable Water Isotope concentrations in stream water and precipitation (2015-2019) has been published and is now available for downloading.(see publication Von Freyberg et al., 2022).

Video of the research catchments