Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


European Snow Science Winter SchoolThe 1st European Snow Science Winter School (ESSWS) took place in Sodankylä, Northern Finland, from 8. - 14. February 2015. Organized by Juha Lemmetyinen from the Finish Meteorological Institute FMI and Martin Schneebeli from the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF from Davos, Switzerland, the snow school aimed at teaching graduate students in modern snow measurement techniques. In addition to the lectures, different measuring instruments are available for the students to get hands-on experience in the field. The list of instruments was long, ranging from hand lenses and crystal plates for traditional snow pits up to high-resolution lasers and penetrometers.

The FMI facilities at Sodankylä were a perfect spot for this event and for hosting the 27 students. The FMI campus offers next to the main institute building with lecture rooms and offices, a canteen and guest houses for the students, and, most important, tons of undisturbed snow to measure! After the usual morning lectures, most of the time was spend outside. After the first day of introduction, the students were using the instruments on their own by groups of 3-4, and studied different kinds of snowpacks (forest, open area, tundra) with different instruments. The last day was then an excursion to Saariselkä, as Tundra site, with a highly wind-influenced snowpack. The task was to characterize the snowpack as detailed as possible using all the available instruments over a distance of 7 km starting from our hotel to a weather station in the middle of the tundra area. Skis, some pulkas and two skidoos for material transport and safety were provided, and the rest was left to the students. Thus the exercise was to plan a small "expedition", with everything which has to be considered: environmental conditions (cold temperatures and wind, time of daylight...), transport of equipment, where and what to measure, sampling design, but also non scientific issues such as group dynamics, personal wellness of group members, hypothermia and fatigue had to be considered. A really open exercise, which was well addressed by the students, but also lots was learned!

Overall, the 1st ESSWS was a big success, with highly motivated students which managed to infect also the lectures with their positive vibes. The throughout professional FMI organization, plenty of social events (Sauna!), the fantastic weather and of course the northern lights made this snow school a great event for all participants. A 2nd ESSWS is thought to take place in Davos next year, so stay tuned!

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