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Saving on resources when making snow and preparing slopes

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As soon as it is it cold enough in autumn, the snow guns and snow canons go into action. The ski resorts want to have all the slopes ready for their guests at the latest by Christmas even if the weather gods don’t co­operate. Often, however, water and energy are wasted and warm weather (Föhn) melts the snow stocks. Sometimes wind blows away the snow while it is being made, or more is produced than necessary. It is estimated that thirty percent are lost – financially as well.

This is where the European project PROSNOW, which was started in 2017, comes into play. Pirmin Ebner, who is working on the project at SLF, explains: “The ski resorts should know in future what weather they can expect for the next three to four weeks. They can then take this into account when producing snow.” As of 2020, an online portal will support the ski regions participating – in Switzerland this means Lenzerheide-Arosa – in snow management. Pirmin is extending SLF’s snow-cover simu­lation programme SNOWPACK/Alpine3D for this purpose because the artificial snow on prepared slopes and in storage heaps reacts to the weather differently from natural snow. Local conditions should also be considered: if the snow is in the shadow of a steep mountain slope, this can make a decisive difference to the temperature. (Birgit Ottmer, Diagonal 2/18)