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Storing last winter's snow for this fall's skiing

Tue, Oct  14, 2008 - By Mike Muha

This year, a project known as "Snow Farming" started in Davos, the famous World Cup and training venue in Switzerland. Artificial snow from last winter was stored at the end of last winter in a depot. One pile was protected with fleece, a second pile was protected with sawdust. At the end of October, the snow will be uncovered and a short track will be prepared to serve the athletes with an on-snow-training possibility.

The Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, in cooperation with the technical service of Davos Destinations Organization (cooperative) and the company Fritz Landolt AG, examined possible methods and costs associated with the technical storage of snow.

The focus is on whether and by what methods it is economically to store snow over the summer to preserve it for use at the beginning of the following winter. Glaciers snow deposits in the Alps have been used for several years, but SLF wanted a better method that required less effort to perserve and restore snow.

Snow coverd by fleece and sawdut and stored of the summer

Snow coverd by fleece and sawdut and stored over the summer

The photo above shows the volume of each pile. At regular intervals, photos were taken to record snow lose during the summer. In the fall, the new volume and the measurement data from spring will be compared. Temperature differences between snow covered in fleece or sawdust provide important information about the insulation effect of each. Meteorological data is also recorded with two meteorological monitoring stations on the snow piles. Further data instruments measure the influence of geothermal heat under the snow piles.

The SLF will use the measurements to develop a reliable simulation tool for creating snow depots in the future.