Prof. Dr. E. Anderheggen
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Two and three dimensional simulations of the alpine snowpack

The aim of this project is to simulate the behaviour of snow cover on a slope in three dimensions. This will lead to a better understanding of the physical behaviour of snow and hopefully into a better prediction of avalanche hazards.

Most predictions of avalanche hazards are based on statistical methods. The exact physical laws (structure of snow cover, temperature dependence, weak layers, topographies, material behaviour,...) which lead to an avalanche are not taken into account by this approach. Those highly nonlinear processes can be modelled using modern numerical methods.

The Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research Davos already developed a one dimensional model of a snow pack. Based on the knowledge of this model the extension for two and three dimensions is the current research topic. In a first step a two dimensional finite element model will be created to study the behaviour of weak layers implemented as spring elements or zero thickness elements. From this point a three dimensional model is to be made.

To be able to model real three dimensional slopes an interface to a GIS is to be programmed. The results like deformation velocities, strains and stresses in the snow cover, boundary forces, and breaking areas are displayed in a graphical user interface using OpenGL.


Prof. Dr. Edoardo Anderheggen (Guidance)
Dr. Perry Bartelt (Guidance)
Martin Stoffel


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