Water Engineering Group

Department of Civil & Structural Engineering

Advanced Radar Imaging of Avalanche Dynamics (Geodar)

Vallee de la Sionne


This project involves the development, testing, installation and application of a novel, high resolution radar system for measuring the dynamics of large-scale mass flows such as snow avalanches. The radar is installed at Vallee de la Sionne, Switzerland, in the bunker from which the photo was taken. Using our instrument we have a unique capability to resolve the structure of the dense layer of the flwoing avalanche. This will lead to better models for avalanche dynamics.



Research area(s)

Project dates

Start date: 
January 2013
End date: 
December 2015

People involved

Matthew Ash (UCL)
Paul Brennan (UCL)
Jim McElwaine (Durham University)
Nathalie Vriend (University of Cambridge)
Betty Sovilla (SLF, Switzerland)


Keylock CJ, Ash M, Vriend N, Brennan PV, Mcewaine JN, Sovilla B (2014). Looking inside an avalanche using a novel radar system. Geology Today, 30 (1), pp. 21-25, Abstract: Snow avalanches are a significant natural hazard in alpine regions and their flow dynamics have...
Ash M, Brennan PV, Keylock CJ, Vriend NM, McElwaine JN, Sovilla B (2014). Two-dimensional radar imaging of flowing avalanches. Cold Regions, Science and Technology, 102 (20), pp. 41-51, Abstract: Radar has emerged as an important tool in avalanche research. However, existing radar sensors...
Vriend NM, McElwaine JN, Sovilla B, Keylock CJ, Ash M, Brennan PV (2013). High-resolution radar measurements of snow avalanches. Geophysical Research Letters, 40 (4), pp. 727-731. (Full Text)., Abstract: Two snow avalanches that occurred in the winter 2010-2011 at Vallée de la Sionne, Switzerland, are...
Ash MJ, Brennan PV, Vriend NM, McElwaine JN, Keylock CJ (2011). Two-dimensional FMCW radar imaging of entire avalanche events. In 5th IASME / WSEAS International Conference on Geology and Seismology (GES ’11) (pp. 153-157).
Ash M, Brennan PV, Vriend NM, McElwaine JN, Keylock CJ (2011). FMCW phased array radar for automatically triggered measurements of snow avalanches. In European Microwave Week 2011: "Wave to the Future", EuMW 2011, Conference Proceedings - 8th European Radar Conference, EuRAD 2011 (pp. 166-169), Abstract: Radar has emerged as a means of measuring avalanche dynamics for validating models to predict...
Ash M, Chetty K, Brennan P, McElwaine J, Keylock CJ (2010). FMCW radar imaging of avalanche-like snow movements. In IEEE Radar Conference (pp. 102-107).