Snowcover: Physics and Modelling

The course at ETHZ provides an introduction to the relevant processes and physics required for key cryospheric applications covering snow and firn metamorphism, snow mechanics, wind transport of snow and energy and mass fluxes in the snowcover. The topics are relevant for glaciology, hydrology, atmospheric science, polar climatology and remote sensing.

Available languages: English

Snow Science Winter School

The Snow Science Winter School will teach these modern techniques of snow measurements. The school consists of a field training complemented by theoretical lessons. It includes the practice with some of the state-of-the-art snow measurement techniques (specific surface area by reflection and spectroscopy, near-infrared photography, high-resolution penetrometry, micro-tomography, etc). Students will learn about how to characterize snow cover, what are the fundamental processes responsible for its evolution, and how does it interacts with the environment.

Available languages: English



videos about the MOSAiC expedition

MOSAiC-Expedition der Polarstern: Erklärstück

Research Interests

My current work is focused on snow and firn. The work in the past years was focused on how to measure snow properties quantitatively and at higher spatial resolution, and from the field- to the micro-scale. To this goal, I am developing new instruments. Scientifically, I am interested in all physical and geological processes occurring in the snowpack, and in different environments. Recent expeditions to Antarctica and the Arctic widened my experience in these fascinating environments.

Specifically i work on the experimental investigation of snow physical properties at the micro- and macroscale (mechanical, thermal, optical), especially using micro-tomography. Using specific new tools, the processes in snow recrystallization, metamorphism and diagenesis are investigated. For this, I work on the development of new instrumentation (3 patents). One goal is also the application of quantitative stratigraphy to larger-scale processes, as remote sensing, avalanche formation and climate research.

Academic Education and Professional Experience

1991:  Dr. sc. tech, ETH Zürich (Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering)

1984:  Dipl. Kulturing. (Environmental Engineering), ETH Zürich

  • Head of Research Unit "Snow and Permafrost since May 2018
  • Invited researcher for field experiments in Antarctica (Project Coldest Firn CoFiAP, PI Dr. Sepp Kipfstuhl, Alfred Wegener Institut, Bremerhaven) 2012-2013, more...
  • Invited researcher for field experiments in Antarctica (Project EXPLORE, PI Dr. Jérôme Chappellaz, CNRS-LGGE, Grenoble) 2011-2012, more...
  • Invited researcher for field experiments (Snowball Earth Analogue, Allan Hills, Antarctica, PI Prof. Stephen Warren, Univ. of Washington) 2010-2011
  • Visiting scientist at LGGE/CNRS Grenoble (July 2008), with Dr. Paul Duval
  • Lecturer at ETH, since 2007
  • Named "Senior Scientist" of WSL since 2006
  • Head of Research Group "Snow Physics", 2006-2018



Publications - ORCID

Publicly available publications: Mendeley or ResearchGate