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Alpine Environment and Natural Hazards

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Head: Dr. Nadine Salzmann

The new research unit founded on 1 July 2021 within the framework of CERC at SLF investigates the effects of climate change and extreme events on physical and ecological processes in mountain environments. The focus is on improving our understanding of natural hazards and on developing measures to cope with changing risks for society.

We use latest measurement systems and field experiments to collect precise data series, to identify and better understand the relevant processes by means of numerical models. This allows us to generate plausible scenarios for future developments and events in alpine region.

The interdisciplinary team of the research unit with specialists from the fields of permafrost, mass movements, mountain ecosystems and remote sensing enables innovative research and the development of new approaches to address the major challenges posed by climate change in mountain areas. We work closely with cantonal, national and international partners from science and practice.



Natural hazards

In Switzerland, natural hazards such as avalanches, landslides, rockfall, debris flows, flooding and forest fires can cause considerable damage.

Mountain ecosystems

Mountain ecosystems are home to numerous animal and plant species and also prevent avalanches and rockfalls and protect against soil erosion.


The term ‘permafrost’ refers to permanently frozen ground. If it thaws, there is a risk of natural hazards like rockfalls or debris flows.