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Link to the movie of Prof. Michael Lehning's inaugural lecture

© 2012 EPFL

© 2012 EPFL

Snow: Hot and cold, dangerous and beautiful, fragile and persistent

Many of us perceive snow as an exciting yet simple feature of winter. It is a frozen type of precipitation or a rather thin and often not very welcome cover on the surface of roads and fields. The lecture investigates snow as a material in the air and on the ground and explains why snow is hot in a relative sense yet feels cold if you touch it. The lecture further explains why snow forms weak layers, which lead to avalanching. Snow as an endangered resource in the context of climate change is discussed and its role in the global mass balance of ice sheets and sea ice. While global snow distribution patterns change dramatically, local snow accumulation generates very persistent patterns, which we only now start to understand. The presentation concludes by looking at exceptional snow statistics from this winter.

Link to the video of the inaugural lesson