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Water Science Alliance

Alpine water resources research: Observing and modeling the spatio-temporal variability of snow dynamics and water- and energy fluxes

The presence of snow at the land surface greatly influences the land cover-atmosphere energy exchange processes. Monitoring and modeling of snow accumulation and melt is usually particularly difficult because of accessibility to high elevation areas, limited snow- and climate data availability and the high spatio-temporal variability of snow dominated hydrological processes. Furthermore, climate change most likely will have a tremendous impact on those environments and therefore accurate hydrological models are crucially needed in order to assess the impacts on regional water resources in mountainous and cold environments.


An innovative network of snow monitoring stations (SnoMoS) and time-lapse cameras  will be intergrated into the existing measurement infrastructures of TERENO preAlpine and the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden to collect an unique data set in mountainous environment. Stable isotope techniques will furthermore be used to improve hydrological process knowledge in the study area.


The overall objectives of the project are:


  • Improving the regionalization of snow cover and energy flux exchange with the atmosphere.


  • Improving the understanding of snow and canopy processes in subalpine and alpine terrain.


  • Assessing the role of snowmelt in runoff generation during mid-winter snowmelt events and the spring freshet.


  • Improving the hydro-meteorological modeling of joint water and energy fluxes in complex terrain.


The project will give new insights into the spatial and temporal variability of mountain snow covers and the energy flux exchange with the atmosphere, as well as the processes of runoff generation during snowmelt for hydro-meteorological modeling in order to assess the impacts of climate change on water resources in mountain regions.