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Chair of Hydrology and Water Resources Management

The Chair of Hydrology and Water Resources Management (HWRM) of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) is part of the Department of Civil, Environmental and geomatic Engineering. It has carried out extensive work in the field of hydrological modelling, with particular emphasis on precipitation, rainfall-runoff modelling, as well as flood analysis and prediction in the probabilisic domain and via simulation techniques. Particularly relevant to ACQWA is the experience with respect to climate change related hydrological investigations (e.g. Birsan et al., 2005; Perona and Burlando, 2006; Pellicciotti et al. 2007), and specifically, with respect to stochastic downscaling techniques (e.g. Burlando and Rosso, 1992); to the analysis of CC effects on basin hydrology (e.g. Burlando et al., 1999; Galimberti-Aghion and Burlando, 2000; Burlando and Rosso, 2002a; b; 2003) and on erosion (Molnar et al. 2006; Burlando and Kirsch, 2005; Kirsch et al. 2007); to glacier modelling (e.g. Pellicciotti, 2004; Pellicciotti et al., 2005; Strasser et al., 2004); and to water resources allocation under CC forcing (Alfieri et al., 2005).

Experience at HWRM-ETHZ is also available from the work carried out in the EU projects “FRAMEWORK”, which investigated the effects of land use changes and engineering works on flood risk, and “MUSIC”, which addressed the role of precipitation measurement and predictions on flood forecasting. Additional expertise of the HWRM-ETHZ research group, also useful within the interdisciplinary context of ACQWA, concerns scaling problems in hydrology, the interaction between hydrology and ecology of fluvial systems, river morphology and water resources management.

The main tasks attributed to HWRM-ETHZ fall in WP3 and are:

- co-leading of WP3, and leading of Task 3.2;
- the development of a space-time stochastic downscaling technique, and its use for generating basin and local scale scenarios (Subtask 3.1.2);
- the simulation of CC basin scale comprehensive hydrological scenarios by means of a distributed physically based hydrological model, which can integrate detailed subgrid models and can be coupled with water driven processes such as erosion and soil slips (Task 3.2);
- the simulation of CC driven local scenarios of glacier evolution by means of a distributed continuous mass-balance glacier model, and the extrapolation of the local results to the basin scale (Subtask 3.3.2);
- the investigation of effects of CC on soil slip hazards (Subtask 3.4.3).

Staff members who will be undertaking the work are:

Paolo Burlando, Professor and Chair of Hydrology and Water Resources Management at ETH Zurich leads a team that pursues a broad spectrum of research in hydrology, including rainfall analysis, modelling and prediction, flood frequency analysis, floods and water driven natural hazards, scaling in hydrology and hydrological modeling, the interaction of hydrology and ecology in floodplains, water resources from glaciated areas, and CC impact on hydrology. He has been involved in many national and international collaborative projects with leading and co-leading roles.

Peter Molnar, PhD in hydrology, senior research associate: his main research cover stochastic rainfall modelling, basin erosion and sedimentation, fluvial system dynamics, and river network studies. Most relevant for this proposal is the expertise about the simulation of rainfall fields with stochastic methods based on scale invariance theories in general, the space-time variability of hill slope sediment delivery to a stream, the spatially distributed simulation of hill slope and channel erosion/deposition.

Darcy Molnar, PhD in hydrology, has a background and a considerable expertise in distributed modelling of catchment response, thus providing the necessary modelling expertise for the new developments of existing models.

Francesca Pellicciotti, PhD in hydrology, has worked comprehensively in the field of glacier research, including extensive field work, and with particular focus on parsimonious and easily transferable distributed modelling of snow- and icemelt, and on detecting climate induced trends of glacier changes.

Ruzica Dadic, PhD student presently working on modelling of the mass-balance of apline glaciers.

In addition, a post-doc researcher and two PhD students, fully dedicated to the project, will be hired.


Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology

The glaciology section of the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) has a long tradition on outstanding research on glacier mechanics and glacier-climate interactions.

Martin Funk has been engaged in a variety of glaciological research fields and consulting works. He was involved in an international project to investigate the rapid flow of the Jakobshavn Isbrae (Greenland) in 1988, 1989, 1995, 1996 and 2007 (SNF-projects). In a collaborative ETH project with Prof. P. Burlando (PI) on ’’Effects of Climatic Fluctuations on Runoff Production and Water Resources Management in highly glacierized Alpine Basins’’, an improved distributed temperature-index model was developed. He was leader of a work-package of the EC-project GLACIORISK. The Swiss contribution in this project was a systematic inventory of hazardous glaciers in Switzerland and a study on the stability of steep glaciers. He was also engaged in various glaciological hazard problems in the Alps and is actually leading a comprehensive SNF project to study the outburst mechanisms of glacier dammed lakes involving three doctoral students.

Andreas Bauder has been working on the mechanics of glacier flow for many years. He is responsible for the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Program of length a mass balance changes in the Swiss Alps. He is actually leading an ETH project on regional differences of mass balance and their impact on the past and future evolution of glaciers in Switzerland involving one doctoral student.

Martin Lüthi has investigated the dynamics of glaciers and ice streams with both field methods and numerical modelling. He has extensive experience with borehole measurement methods. He is actually leading a SNF project on the rapid thinning of ice streams in Greenland.


Chair of Forest Ecology

The chair of Forest Ecology was founded in 2004 and is emphasizing research on the effects of Global Change with regard to the structure and function of forest ecosystems, particularly in mountain regions. It is part of the Department of Environmental Sciences, which is focusing on research dealing with the interactions between the anthroposphere, the biosphere and the atmosphere. ETHZ Forest Ecology is devoted to investigating natural patterns and processes in mountain forest ecosystems towards improving the management of these vital and often fragile systems in an era of multiple and often conflicting forest uses, including protection, wood production, carbon storage, diversity, and recreation. The group has a track record of research on (1) the anal¬ys¬is of the pools and fluxes of C and H2O at the scale of mountain catchments; (2) the interactions between climate, vegetation properties and large-scale disturbance regimes (particularly wind-throw, insect attacks, and wildfires); and (3) forest succession. The group has a strong modelling focus and was involved in several EU projects under the 5th and 6th FPs (GLO¬RIA-EUROPE, ATEAM, GLOCHAMORE, ALARM).

Prof. Dr. Harald Bugmann holds a PhD in forest ecology and systems analysis from ETH Zurich (1994). He has extensive post-doc experience in Ger¬many (PIK) and the US (NCAR) and re¬turn¬ed to ETH in 1999 as an Assistant Professor for Mountain Forest Ecology. He has pub¬lish¬ed more than 85 peer-reviewed papers and 6 edited monographs. He will supervise the postdoc (LPJ-GUESS) and will ensure that expertise and modelling results from other projects in the group will be available to ACQWA.

Dr. Annett Wolf is a postdoc/senior scientist in the Forest Ecology group, focusing on modelling biogeochemical processes in mountain catchments using the LPJ-GUESS model. She holds a PhD in forest ecology (2003) and has pos-doc experience from the EU project BALANCE, where she modelled arctic vegetation dynamics as affected by global change. In ACQWA, she will focus on the impact assessment using LPJ-GUESS and LANDCLIM.


Fondazione Montagna Sicura

The Safe Mountain Foundation - Fondazione Montagna sicura - was established thanks to the passing of Act 9 on 24th June 2000 by the autonomous region of the Aosta Valley with the intention of promoting the study of phenomena and problems related to the safety, rescue and life in the mountains. The founding partners are the Aosta Valley autonomous region, the municipal council of Courmayeur, the Aosta Valley alpine rescue squad and the Aosta Valley mountain guide association.

It is pursuing the following objectives:

  • The study of climatic and meteorological phenomena;
  • The study of environmental phenomena which condition life in the mountains;
  • An analysis of hydro-geological risks;
  • The promotion of human activity in order to control depopulation;
  • The promotion of safety in the mountains;
  • The study of problems concernining alpine rescue;
  • The promotion of mountaineering and hiking activities.

Established at the end of 2002, the Foundation has its seat in the prestigious Villa Cameron in Courmayeur which was donated by Miss Una Cameron, an aristocratic Scot and mountain climber who, in the thirties, had the house built. She donated it to the Region so that a research and conference centre concerning mountains could be established. The villa is situated at the foot of Mont Blanc, at the entrance to the Val Ferret and a five minute walk from the Monte Bianco cable car. It is in a perfect position, given that it is easily reached from France (Haute Savoye) through the Mont Blanc tunnel and because the surrounding area is an excellent outpost for observing all natural phenomena.

All the initiatives were started in the autumn of 2003 thanks to some conventions with the Aosta Valley autonomous region’s committee for territory, the environment and public works. The foundation is presently involved in:

- the management of projects which concern the environment, natural risks, safety and conservation both of a local and cross-border nature and an assessment of the alpine environment from a sustainable development point of view;
- the acquisition, classification and disclosure of a heritage documentary on the alpine environment, with particular reference to the dynamics of glaciers and climatic change;
- the actuation of synergy with the main “centres of excellence” operating in the alpine region on the above-mentioned themes;
- the management of projects about communication and information concerning high mountain areas, from the point of view of prevention and safety;
- the implementation of training and specialized courses regarding safety in the mountains for various types of clients (mountain climbers, ski clubs, tourists and residents);
- the running of in-depth and specialized training courses for mountain professionals, in particular alpine guides.

The Foundation is the seat of the “Aosta Valley glacial direction cabin”, in agreement with the regional administration’s comittee for territory, the environment and public works.

The direction cabin is supervised by the geologist from the Aosta valley autonomous region and puts together members from the alpine rescue squad and alpine mountain guides as well as referees from institutions such as the National Glaciology Committee, CNR-IRPI and Aosta Valley’s ARPA (Regional Agency for the Protection of the Environment). Its aim is to co-ordinate some initiatives for monitoring Aosta Valley glaciers, to plan combined actions for safeguarding them and to promote, using work-tables, the scientific know-how acquired and the actions undertaken. Since 2004, these ambitious aims have been fulfilled through specific activities:

- the development and updating of a regional glaciological data bank, in synergy with the committee for territory;
- two annual surveys ( one in summer and one in autumn) of the 37 representative Aosta Valley glacial devices. ( This is done by mountain guides);
- the continuous monitoring of three significant glacial devices, one of which is done by using a remote-controlled digitalcamera;
- the creation of a computerized historical inventory relating to the evolution of the territory and photographic archives of the Aosta valley glacial environment, beginning with the discovery of historical documents and proceeding with their classification and computerization so as to document the geomorphological evolution of the area.
- specific research projects that include the use of instruments and advanced technology applied to the study and monitoring of glaciers.

The monitoring activities are part of the tasks performed by the “Aosta Valley glacial direction cabin”. Funds come from the Region as well as from the other signatories. Not only, as we have see the direction cabin brings together the people in charge of alpine rescue and mountain guides as well as institutional referees such as the National Glacier Committee, the C.N.R. (National Research Council), Aosta Valley’s A.R.P.A. (Regional Agency for the Protection of the Environment), CVA and the Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso. Each organization is competent in its sphere and together share t heir knowledge giving an important surplus at this structure.

The referent is Jean Pierre Fosson, Director of the Foundation and expert on European projects.


The Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics

Founded in 1964 by Abdus Salam (Nobel Laureate), the ICTP operates under the aegis of two United Nations Agencies: UNESCO (United Nations organization for Education, Science and Culture) and IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and is regularised by a seat agreement with the Government of Italy, which provides the major part of the Centre’s funding. The main aim of the ICTP is to foster the growth of advanced studies and research in physical and mathematical sciences, especially in developing countries.

ICTP acts as an international forum for scientific contacts between scientists from all countries. It provides facilities to conduct original research to its visitors, associates and fellows. On average, ICTP welcomes 3600 scientists a year. Over 50% of the scientists who have attended the ICTP activities since 1964 came from developing countries; until now, 150 nations and 45 international organizations have been represented. The main research fields of interest at ICTP are: Mathematics, Physics of Condensed Matter, Physics of High and Intermediate Energies, Earth System Physics, Physics of the Living State, Digital Communications and Computer Networking. The Earth System Physics section (ESP) was established in 2005 and conducts research on regional climate modelling, anthropogenic climate change, natural climate variability, chemistry-climate interactions, biosphere-atmosphere interactions, seismology, physics of the lithosphere, earthquake prediction.

The ESP maintains and develops a state-of-the-art regional climate model (RegCM). This model was developed during the last decade and has been used for a wide variety of applications, from paleo-climate to possible future climate simulations at the regional scale. The RegCM has been applied to a wide range of regions in the globe (Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, United States, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central, East and South Asia, South America) and has been run at horizontal grid intervals of 20-100 km. It has capability of interactive coupling to an aerosol model and to a one dimensional lake model. The RegCM is currently used by a wide range of users, including many from developing countries. The ESP is currently participating in European projects (ENSEMBLES, CECILIA, WATCH) and is involved in a number of projects proposed for the Italian National Climate Research Program. The ESP has access to the supercomputing facilities of CINECA.

Filippo Giorgi is currently a senior scientist in ICTP and head of ESP, which he joined in May 1998. He obtained a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology in June of 1986, and worked as a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Co, USA, from 1986 to 1998. He co-authored over 140 refereed publications and was an investigator in over 20 research grants in the U.S. and Europe. He pioneered the field of regional climate modelling, for which he has over 20 years of working experience. Other research experience and interests include global climate, mesoscale and aerosol modelling, biosphere atmosphere and chemistry-climate interactions, climate change and variability (focus on the regional scale).

Erika Coppola received the Laurea degree in Physics (1998) from the University of L’Aquila, and the Ph.D degree (2004) in Meteorology from the University of Reading, UK. From 2002 to 2006 she joined the CETEMPS centre of excellence of the University of L’Aquila as a post-doc. She is currently young scientist in ICTP, ESP section, which she joined in September 2006. Her Ph.D research involved passive remote sensing of the atmosphere from space-borne platforms, with a particular focus on precipitation using microwave and infrared data, development of inversion methods neural network based. She is involved in the hydrological model research activity and development of CHyM hydrological model and in particular her current research involves the coupling of the hydrological model with regional climate model (RegCM) for land-use impact studies and climate change studies. Her interests include also AGCM and RCM model simulation analysis for climate change and variability study.

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