Autumn Semester 2020 takes place in a mixed form of online and classroom teaching.
Please read the published information on the individual courses carefully.

651-1504-00L  Snowcover: Physics and Modelling

SemesterSpring Semester 2019
LecturersM.  Schneebeli, H. Löwe
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish

Catalogue data

AbstractSnow is a fascinating high-temperature material and relevant for applications in glaciology, hydrology, atmospheric sciences, polar climatology, remote sensing and natural hazards. This course introduces key concepts and underlying physical principles of snow, ranging from individual crystals to polar ice sheets.
ObjectiveThe course aims at a cross-disciplinary overview about the phenomenology of relevant processes in the snow cover, traditional and advanced experimental methods for snow measurements and theoretical foundations with key equations required for snow modeling. Tutorials and short presentations will also consider the bigger picture of snow physics with respect to climatology, hydrology and earth science.
ContentThe lectures will treat snow formation, crystal growth, snow microstructure, metamorphism, ice physics, snow mechanics, heat and mass transport in the snowcover, surface energy balance, snow models, wind transport, snow chemistry, electromagnetic properties, experimental techniques.

The tutorials include a demonstration/exercise part and a presentation part. The demonstration/exercise part consolidates key subjects of the lecture by means of small data sets, mathematical toy models, order of magnitude estimates, image analysis and visualization, small simulation examples, etc. The presentation part comprises short presentations (about 15 min) based on selected papers in the subject.

First practical experience with modern methods measuring snow properties can be acquired in a field excursion.
Lecture notesLecture notes and selected publications.
Prerequisites / NoticeWe offer a field excursion to Davos on Saturday, March 23, 2019, in Davos. We will demonstrate traditional and modern field-techniques (snow profile, Near-infrared photography, SnowMicroPen) and you will have the chance to use the instruments yourself. The excursion includes a visit of the SLF cold laboratories with the micro-tomography setup and the snowmaker.

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits4 credits
ExaminersM.  Schneebeli, H. Löwe
Typeend-of-semester examination
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionA repetition date will be offered in the first two weeks of the semester immediately consecutive.
Admission requirementA short presentation (10 min by the student ) about a relevant snow publication in one of the tutorials is the pre-requisite to pass the course.
Additional information on mode of examinationA bonus point (+0.25 grade) for the final grade can be acquired by solving 5 out of 12 exercises.

Learning materials

No public learning materials available.
Only public learning materials are listed.


651-1504-00 GSnowcover: Physics and Modelling3 hrs
Mon15-18NO E 39 »
M.  Schneebeli, H. Löwe


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Atmospheric and Climate Science MasterMinor in Physical GlaciologyWInformation
Earth Sciences MasterGlaciology: Obligatorische FächerOInformation
MAS in Sustainable Water ResourcesElective CoursesWInformation
Physics MasterSelection: Environmental PhysicsWInformation
Environmental Sciences MasterMinor in Physical GlaciologyWInformation