Snow mechanics and snow microstructure - the missing link

Project lead

Alec van Herwijnen


Jürg Schweizer

Project staff

Jakob Schöttner
Melin Walet

Project duration

2021 - 2024


Understanding the mechanical properties of snow is crucial to accurately predict avalanches, as it provides critical information about the stability and behavior of snowpacks in different conditions. In this project, our goal is to better understand the mechanical properties of weak snow layer by studying how their mechanical behavior and microstructure are related. We plan to conduct a series of experiments in the field and in the laboratory using advanced techniques such as controlled mechanical testing, digital image correlation, and X-ray tomography. By linking mechanical and microstructural properties of snow, we aim to comprehensively investigate their relationship across a wide range of conditions. We will also collect field data to determine typical ranges of mechanical and microstructural parameters associated with avalanche release, and use this information to improve snow instability assessment for avalanche forecasting.