The best-known service provided by the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF is its national avalanche bulletin. This information on the snow and hazard situation is published twice a day in winter, and it prevents accidents which would often have fatal consequences.

Photo: PermaSense/TIK/ETH Zürich

Anyone planning a skiing trip to one of the peaks in the Swiss Alps will probably consult the avalanche bulletins published by the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos. Few other documents published in the ETH Domain are consulted as widely by the public as these very detailed warnings about the state of the snow and the risk of avalanches in the mountains between the Engadin valley and the Alps in Valais.

Innovative products for practical applications

The SLF is an interdisciplinary research and service centre that forms part of the research institute WSL. It has around 130 staff. Its fields of interest are snow, the atmosphere, natural hazards, permafrost and mountain ecosystems. The SLF employees are involved in both fundamental and applied research, the aim of which is to develop innovative instruments for the authorities, industry and the public that can be used, for example, to manage the risk of natural hazards or to analyse climate and environmental change.

Serving the public

The SLF also works closely with research scientists to offer a range of services which include avalanche bulletins, advice, expert opinions on accidents involving avalanches, protection against avalanches and the development of warning systems for natural alpine hazards. In addition, the SLF employees teach in the ETH Domain and at various universities in Switzerland and abroad, and they also train safety specialists. The experts at the SLF pass on their expertise to the general public via the media and other communication channels.