Item: The driftometer
Title: The driftometer
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 1996 International Snow Science Workshop, Banff, Canada
Authors: Robert Bolognesi, Swiss Federal Institute for Snow- and Avalanche Research, Davos - Switzerland
Abstract: Wind can create even greater unstable accumulations of snow in mountainous areas than heavy snowfalls. But knowing wind conditions is not sufficient to predict these accumulations because their formation also depends on the snow quality of the snowpack surface all around the measurement station. In consequence, the assessment of snowdrift is required to improve avalanche forecasting. According to this assumption, a very simple (and cheap) instrument has been designed to take snowdrift measurements, and tested in a wind-tunnel. This instrument is called 'driftometer'. The driftometer can catch snow particles blown by the wind, which makes a daily evaluation of the direction and intensity of the snowdrift possible. Driftometers have been used by several safety services at European ski resorts during three winter seasons. Snowdrift data has been recorded as well as avalanche activity. This experiment has shown that there is a strong correlation between snowdrift and avalanche occurrence. The experiment also demonstrates that the driftometer is a useful tool for avalanche forecasting.
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Keywords: snowdrift, local avalanche forecasting, instrumentation
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