Based in Innsbruck, Dr. Jan-Thomas Fischer works as head of the division of snow and avalanches at the Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW), contributing to the unanswered questions in avalanche research. Together with the BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria and the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Switzerland, he recently tackled the question of how temperature influences snow flows. Jan-Thomas Fischer is also actively involved in avalanche education programs as well as the recently founded Austrian Association for Snow and Avalanches (ÖGSL).
Flow regime transitions and thermal equilibrium in avalanches
Avalanches encounter different flow regimes depending on snow properties, such as temperature. While field experiments allow to classify these transitions, laboratory experiments provide the opportunity to investigate their underlying processes.
We successfully reproduce expected flow regime transitions in a rotating drum and alongside discover a new phenomenon prohibiting these transitions, namely the thermal equilibrium in gravitational mass flows. This research contributes to the development of tools to predict the destructive avalanche potential, particularly with respect to the influence of snow temperature on flow mobility and run out.