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Centre d’Etudes de la Neige

The CEN is a laboratory of the research department (CNRM) of Météo-France located at Grenoble and specialized in snow and avalanche research. Météo-France is a public establishment under the authority of the French Ministry in charge of the Transports and is certified ISO 9001-2000. As part of CNRM, CEN is included in the associated research unit of CNRS named GAME (URA 1357).

The CEN has proven its expertise in avalanche forecasting and as a high-level research centre for mountain meteorology, climate change impacts, snow and avalanches. Its main working fields are: physical and mechanical properties of snow at different scales, field instrumentation, remote sensing observation, snow cover modelling, interactions between snow, atmosphere and wind, snow climatology and hydrology. The CEN has developed a range of operational numerical models running at the massif scale which have been widely validated in different experiments in several European and overseas mountainous regions. These models allow a routinely automatic hourly estimation of meteorological near-surface parameters including rainfalls, snow conditions and avalanche hazards at different aspects and elevations. The transfer of such applications to the operational users has been assured by CEN teams. Other local tools for data processing and local avalanche hazard estimation have also been developed and routinely used.

The different CNRM laboratories are strongly close and are used to work together; the CEN has the benefits of the experience in hydrology at regional scale of the other specialized groups and its own experience allows it to translate such information at local scale.

The CEN acts also as national coordinator of the avalanche hazard forecast which is operated by Météo-France and assures the responsibility of the national snow data base and for the development of the operational tools. In case of high avalanche events or crisis, CEN participates to the spatial management of the forecast and to the communication with media and authorities.

The CEN has its own computing facilities and access to all Météo-France super computers and database facilities. The CEN operates two cold laboratories and two main reference high altitude observation sites.

Pierre Etchevers: (Born 03/01/70). Head of CEN (Chief-Engineer of Meteorology and PhD in Meteorology/Hydrology from Toulouse Univ.) He worked several years on snow modelling and has a great experience in various applications such downscaling, climate change, hydrology, turbulent fluxes above the snow pack with several associated publications.

Yves Durand: (Born 20/04/51). Deputy Director at the CEN (Chief-Engineer of Meteorology). Long experience of the numerical analysis of meteorological fields which he has principally used for the automatic determination of small-scale fields in mountainous areas with several international publications. Supervises at CEN the team "Meteorology and Mountains"; which works also on the snowdrifts experiments and downscaling operators. He is in charge of the daily numerical at different spatial scales which includes meteorological and snow oriented products as avalanche risks, precipitation and melting amounts evaluation.

Jean-Marie Willemet: (Born 07/05/65) (Civil Engineer of Meteorology) He is a specialist in snow numerical modelling and surface processes.


Inst. Torcuato d. Tella

Instituto Torcuato Di Tella (ITDT from now on), was founded on July 22, 1958 by the family of Ing. Torcuato Di Tella, in honour of his memory, with the purpose of promoting educational, intellectual, artistic and social activities. It is a Non Government Organisation fully recognised under Argentine Law, and his work to give services to community is done through CIE (Centre for Economic Investigations in Spanish) and through the CIS (Centre for Social Research in Spanish). Both Centres has a recognized path in scientific research, artistic creation and high level teaching.

Eight of these researchers are Full Academic Members of Economics, History, Political and Moral Sciences, at National Level, and to the Buenos Aires National Academies. Seven of them had been Guggenheim Fellowships, and the majority of them had awards from prestigious universities and academic institutions of Argentina and abroad.

Director: Torcuato S. Di Tella

General Coordinator: Salvador Orsini



CESI RICERCA SpA has been established at the end of 2005 as a separate company of CESI “Centro Elettrotecnico Sperimentale Italiano Giacinto Motta” SpA, to take over funded research activities of national and international interest and it started operating on January 1st 2006. Four hundred technicians and researchers – and their main laboratories – were moved from CESI to CESI RICERCA. The new company carry out research in the electricity and energy sector, with strong emphasis on experimental applications, thus ensuring the consistent continuation of all current research activities and the development of new strategic projects in the future. Focus of the mission is to ensure the technology transfer in order to address the national energy, environmental and economic goals.

CESI RICERCA is currently owned by ENEA “Ente per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e l’ambiente” (51%) and CESI (49%) and represents a new public research centre in the sector.

The Environment and Sustainable Development Department carry out R & D activities aimed to evaluate and mitigate the electric system impact on environment and territory and to improve the sustainability of electric system development. Its main activities are:

  • Environmental monitoring (in connection with the Electric System impacts)
  • External costs analysis for the Electric System and Sustainability analysis of Electric System development
  • Methods and technologies for Carbon sequestration
  • Development of methods and tools for the sustainable management of territory and natural resources
  • Development of methods and tools for the environmental management of plants and infrastructures
  • Analysis of Meteorological and Climatic Risks for the Power Systems

Stefano Maran has a university degree in physics, since 1988 he works in research activities on environmental impacts of the electric sector. In particular he contributed to Italian and international projects on integrated water resources management and on the pressures of hydroelectric power plants on aquatic ecosystem. Since 2000 he is team leader and project leader of Italian projects on hydropower and the environment. In this framework he has initiated in 2004 research activities on the effects of expected climate change on hydroelectric generation.


UNIAQ - CETEMPS Center of Excellence – University of L’Aquila

The University of L’Aquila has developed a land surface hydrological model, called CHyM (CETEMPS Hydrological Model) (Coppola et al., 2007, Tomassetti et al., 2005). This is a grid based, physical hydrological model that can be used to characterized hydrologic basin for any domain with a space resolution depending on the digital elevation model (DEM) available for the region. CHyM explicitly solves the continuity and momentum equations to predict the surface runoff, while the Thornthwaite formula (Thornthwaite and Mather, 1957) is used to calculate the evapotranspiration term. A simplified two-reservoir scheme is used to simulate the infiltration process. The contribution of WP2.2.1 to the ACQWA project will be to undertake hydrological model simulations and to implement processes in the CHyM model that are important for alpine river runoff, e.g., snow-pack formation and melting. In its current implementation, CHyM is able to acquire rainfall observations and predictions from different models and data bases. CHyM rebuilds on the assigned grid the rainfall field at an hourly time-scale using the different available data set at different time steps. The use of CHyM, coupled with all available sources of rainfall data (e.g., RCM output, cryosphere model output, etc.) will enable an assessment of the change in runoff and water availability in several selected geographical domains. The CHyM model has also been used for landslide prediction and has been tested for the past events in Central Italy where the records of landslides are available. All these characteristics make CHyM suitable for studies assessing the climatic change effects on the frequency and severity of floods and on increasing of landslides events (see WP3.1 and WP3.2).

In collaboration with ICTP, output from the RegCM simulations completed as part of WP2.1.2 will be used to assess changes in the hydrology of different mountain regions, with particular emphasis on river runoff and water availability. In the first phase Alpine basins (e.g. the Po and Rhone rivers) will be investigated while in the following phase the simulations will be extended to other selected non-European Regions.

Marco Verdecchia received the Laurea degree in Physics from the University of L’Aquila. He has been several times at CERN, Geneva (CH) as a visiting scientist between 1992 and 1996. Since 2000 he is a researcher of the Physics Dept. of the University of L’Aquila, Italy. In 2002 he also joined the CETEMPS centre of excellence of the University of L’Aquila. His current research involves remote sensing of precipitation from satellites, development of inversion methods neural network based and hydrological modelling and implementation. His main area of interest is the applications of biological algorithms in numerical modelling of complex physics system. In the last years he was involved in the development of a distributed hydrological model and mainly on the parameterization of different physical processes contributing to hydrological scale.

Barbara Tomassetti received the Laurea degree in Physics from the University of L’Aquila, and the Ph.D degree in Physics from the University of L’Aquila, Italy. Since 2002 she joined the CETEMPS centre of excellence of the University of L’Aquila. She is involved in the hydrological model research activity and development going on in the CETEMPS hydrological model group. Her current research involves the development of inversion methods neural network based, hydrological modelling and hydro meteorological effects of land use change at regional scale. In the last years she was involved in the development of a distributed hydrological model and mainly in the coupling of CHyM model with meteorological and climatic models (MM5 and RegCM). The coupling of different models leads to the possibility of investigating the hydrological effects induced by the melting of glaciers area in the Alpine Region.



The LTHE laboratory (“Laboratoire d'étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement”) is a joint-lab of CNRS (UMR 5564) partnered with University of Grenoble, France ( Created in 1992 and actually managed by Director Thierry Lebel, this research unit is an interdisciplinary laboratory focused on hydrology, climate, and environment. Several scientific fields are developed for these issues by a permanent staff of 65 researchers and professors: water cycle and management, flooding, hydrology and climate modelling, sensors development, mountain hydrology (snow and ice) .  

Dr. Jean-Pierre Dedieu is a permanent research scientist (senior) of CNRS since 1986. Specialized in Remote Sensing of the cryosphere since 20 years (optical to SAR), his experience is largely dedicated to snow and ice monitoring in high mountains regions (climate and hydrology). Many publications were focused on the use of optical data (visible to infra-red) for snow characteristics retrieval: (i) Snow Covered Area (SCA) percentage mapping at the sub-pixel size, important issue for meteorological application and hydrological modelling of runoff; (ii) Snow Grain Size (SGS) at the snow surface mapping, important effect on the snow albedo and important parameter for any study which needs energy balance at the surface. A strong experience is also acquired in active radars (SAR) for dry and wet snow mapping inferred from dual- and quad-polarization sensors (Envisat, SIR-C) under high elevation conditions. The objective is to retrieve the snow pack water equivalent (SWE) using field measurements network points to calibrate the model. Then, publications were published concerning the use of optical remote sensing data for time-series mass balance reconstruction in the French Alps.

JP. Dedieu will be in charge of the WP 1.3 sub-task, “Remote Sensing data”. His tasks are explained in detailed in the work package description of the project. The key issue are (i) to validate the past and current climate model (WP 1.1 and WP 1.2), and (ii) to provide data inputs for regional climate future simulation (WP 2.1.1 to WP 2.1.3). Deliverables are snow characteristics mapping (SCA, SGS, SWE) at large and local scale inferred by remote sensing. J. P. Dedieu sub-task results will be linked with WP 2.2.1 (partner ETH-Zurich) and WP 2. 3.3. (partner Meteo-France).

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