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Two months in Pyeongchang to study Korean snowfalls

Josué Gehring installing a radar at EPFL. © Jamani Caillet / 2018 EPFL

Josué Gehring installing a radar at EPFL. © Jamani Caillet / 2018 EPFL

Josué Gehring is about to spend two months taking part in an international meteorological measurement project in the mountains of South Korea, close to the 2018 Winter Olympics host venues. Discover his adventures on the EPFL Out There blog!

Josué Gehring is a second-year PhD student at EPFL. On 5 February 2018, he will go to South Korea with a group of around ten researchers from other countries to collect meteorological data in the mountains, close to the Winter Olympics venues of Pyeongchang, Gangneung and Jeongseon. His two-month stay will allow him to follow the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in their entirety. He is writing about the experience on the EPFL Out There blog, on which EPFL scientists post entries from all over the world.

EPFL Out There blog #SnowfallInKorea (South Korea)

After earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and engineering at EPFL, Josué went to ETH Zurich to complete a master’s degree in atmospheric science. He came back to EPFL in 2017 and is currently a doctoral student in the Environmental Remote Sensing Laboratory (LTE) led by Alexis Berne.

For his PhD, Josué is looking at the meteorological conditions associated with intense riming in mountainous regions. The aim of his work is to achieve a better understanding of what causes major snowfalls and to characterize them more effectively. The ultimate goal is to improve weather forecasting in mountain areas.

New data
In pursuit of the same goal, EPFL has collected a large volume of meteorological data in the last few years, particularly in the Valais region of Switzerland and the Antarctic. Those data have formed the basis of several scientific articles (see EPFL News of 6 April 2017 and 26 September 2017). In South Korea, the proximity of mountains to the ocean produces different weather conditions from those seen in the Alps. By comparing data collected in these two regions, EPFL researchers will be able to gain a better understanding of the underlying dynamics.

Four measurement devices
Josué Gehring has already installed four measurement devices in the South Korean mountains with Alexis Berne, Christophe Praz (another LTE PhD student) and Jacques Grandjean, from MétéoSuisse: a precipitation radar, a cloud radar, a disdrometer (to measure the size of raindrops and snowflakes) and a Multi-Angle Snowflake Camera (MASC). The MASC, on loan from MétéoSuisse, takes millions of high-resolution photos of snowflakes from various angles, helping researchers to understand their structure. Working with Christophe Praz, Josué will manage all these instruments. He will have eight weeks to collect as much data as possible from the South Korean mountains. And as a keen cross-country skier, he will of course be keeping a close eye on how Swiss competitors fare in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The ICE-POP 2018 international scientific campaign is an initiative of the Korea Meteorological Administration, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization.

Press kit (photos, press releases in French and English)

Author: Sandrine Perroud
Source: Mediacom