AvaRange - Particle Tracking in Snow Avalanches


  • TU Berlin
  • University of Innsbruck
  • Austrian Research Centre for Forests

Team @ TKN

Former Members


  • DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)

Project Time

  • 06/2020 - 03/2026



The destructive potential of gravitational mass flows, such as snow avalanches, has a large socio-economic impact in mountainous regions. Our current understanding of flow dynamics on a particle level is mostly based on laboratory experiments and computer simulations. Measurement techniques of snow avalanches usually involve either non-invasive externally observable characteristics or invasive flow-obstacle interactions. An appropriate non-invasive in-flow measurement method, that allows to assess the influence of snow and particle properties, such as temperature, density, size, or shape, on processes like segregation, phase separation, and eventually flow mobility, is missing.

The project AvaRange aims at bridging this gap by making use of technical advances in the fields of inertial sensors and wireless ranging to examine the internal flow behavior of avalanches. Embedded systems with communication and sensing capabilities will be used for real-time measurements. Equipped with robust housings and placed in release areas, the sensors will be able to move with the avalanche. Inertial navigation provides information on the local motion of each sensor and radio ranging methods allow multiple sensor systems to communicate and track their distances over time. Together, these approaches are the basis to develop novel in-flow measurement methods for gravitational mass flows, which allow to track particle motion within an avalanche. Experimental feasibility studies and examinations of existing motion analysis algorithms show that state of the art solutions are not yet able to do so. The AvaRange system will be the first systematic approach to collect in-flow data with high precision in real-world avalanche scenarios.

Overall, AvaRange has the potential for major breakthroughs in the understanding of internal dynamic processes and flow mobility of avalanches, which determine flow, stopping, and run-out behavior as well as impact pressures. Detailed information on particle trajectories will contribute to the development of avalanche flow models, which are an integral part of avalanche simulations and hazard mapping applications. The harsh experimental environments demand inexpensive, durable, yet highly accurate sensor combinations with robust radio transmission in snow. These sensors will also be of interest for all kinds of different gravitational mass flows beyond the scope of the project. The understanding of particle transport and the respective flow trajectories in avalanches is highly relevant, e.g., for skier burial location prediction or transport of debris material and their possible impact location. An increased understanding of granulation and segregation processes will further be beneficial to design of avalanche safety equipment.

To adequately address the described fundamental research challenges, a highly specialized, interdisciplinary, and transnational consortium has been formed including Prof. F. Dressler (DE), who is an expert on distributed embedded systems, ultra-low power wireless communication, and tracking applications, Prof. J. Gerstmayr (AT) with emphasis on robotics and multi body dynamics, and Dr. J.-T. Fischer (AT) for the experimental and computational avalanche dynamics aspects. The team is supported by internationally leading experts in particle flow and avalanche dynamics.

Selected Publications

  1. Robert Winkler, Michael Neuhauser, Rene Neurauter, Felix Erlacher, Walter Steinkogler and Jan-Thomas Fischer, "Particle tracking in snow avalanches with in situ calibrated inertial measurement units," Annals of Glaciology, pp. 1–23, January 2024. (online first) [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  2. Jonas Kuß, Anselm Köhler, Michael Neuhauser, Rene Neurauter, Johannes Gerstmayr, Jan-Thomas Fischer and Falko Dressler, "Distributed UWB-based Ranging for Particle Tracking in Avalanches," Proceedings of 19th IEEE/IFIP Conference on Wireless On demand Network Systems and Services (WONS 2024), Chamonix, France, January 2024, pp. 125–132. [DOI, BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  3. Rene Neurauter, Andreas Holzinger, Michael Neuhauser, Jan-Thomas Fischer and Johannes Gerstmayr, "Motion Reconstruction of Fast-rotating Rigid Bodies," Journal of Computational and Nonlinear Dynamics, vol. 19 (1), pp. 011005, January 2024. [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  4. Jan-Thomas Fischer, Michael Neuhauser, Anselm Köhler, Felix Oesterle, Anna Wirbel, Oscar Dick, Wolfgang Fellin, Robert Winkler, Rene Neurauter, Johannes Gerstmayr, Jonas Kuß and Falko Dressler, "On the potential of particle tracking in snow avalanches," Proceedings of International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW 2023), Bend, OR, October 2023, pp. 48–55. [BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  5. Jonas Kuß, Anselm Köhler, Michael Neuhauser, Jan-Thomas Fischer, Rene Neurauter, Johannes Gerstmayr and Falko Dressler, "A Measurement System for Distributed UWB-based Ranging and Localization in Snow Avalanches," Proceedings of 29th ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MobiCom 2023), Poster Session, Madrid, Spain, October 2023. [DOI, BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  6. Michael Neuhauser, Anselm Köhler, Rene Neurauter, Marc S. Adams and Jan-Thomas Fischer, "Particle trajectories, velocities, accelerations and rotation rates in snow avalanches," Annals of Glaciology, pp. 1–18, October 2023. [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  7. Michael Neuhauser, Rene Neurauter, Marc Adams, Anselm Köhler, Robert Winkler, Falko Dressler, Wolfgang Fellin, Johannes Gerstmayr and Jan-Thomas Fischer, "Multi-sensor investigation of particle movement in snow avalanches," Proceedings of IUGG General Assembly, Berlin, Germany, July 2023, pp. IUGG23–3488. [BibTeX, More details]
  8. Rene Neurauter and Johannes Gerstmayr, "A novel motion-reconstruction method for inertial sensors with constraints," Multibody System Dynamics, vol. 57 (2), pp. 181–209, December 2022. [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  9. Rene Neurauter, Michael Neuhauser, Johannes Blobel, Robert Winkler, Falko Dressler, Jan-Thomas Fischer and Johannes Gerstmayr, "An in-flow sensor system for data acquisition in snow avalanches," Proceedings of EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, May 2022, pp. EGU22–11328. [DOI, BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  10. Michael Neuhauser, Rene Neurauter, Steffen Tuermer, Johannes Gerstmayr, Marc Adams, Anselm Köhler and Jan-Thomas Fischer, "Investigating the potential of GNSS-modules for inflow avalanche measurements," Proceedings of EGU General Assembly, Vienna, Austria, May 2022, pp. EGU22–6416. [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  11. Anatolij Zubow, Christos Laskos and Falko Dressler, "FTM-ns3: WiFi Fine Time Measurements for NS3," Proceedings of 17th IEEE/IFIP Conference on Wireless On demand Network Systems and Services (WONS 2022), Virtual Conference, March 2022, pp. 1–7. [DOI, BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  12. Christopher J. L. D'Amboise, Michael Neuhauser, Michaela Teich, Andreas Huber, Andreas Kofler, Frank Perzl, Reinhard Fromm, Karl Kleemayr and Jan-Thomas Fischer, "Flow-Py v1.0: a customizable, open-source simulation tool to estimate runout and intensity of gravitational mass flows," Geoscientific Model Development, vol. 15 (6), pp. 2423–2439, March 2022. [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  13. Rene Neurauter, Peter Hergel and Johannes Gerstmayr, "Evaluation of Inertial Measurement Units for Short Time Motion Tracking," Proceedings of 17th International Conference on Multibody Systems, Nonlinear Dynamics, and Control (MSNDC 2021), Virtual Conference, August 2021. [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  14. Anatolij Zubow, Piotr Gawłowicz and Falko Dressler, "On Phase Offsets of 802.11ac Commodity WiFi," Proceedings of 16th IEEE/IFIP Conference on Wireless On demand Network Systems and Services (WONS 2021), Virtual Conference, March 2021. [DOI, BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  15. Anselm Köhler, Lai Bun Lok, Simon Felbermayr, Nial Peters, Paul V. Brennan and Jan-Thomas Fischer, "mGEODAR - A Mobile Radar System for Detection and Monitoring of Gravitational Mass-Movements," Sensors, vol. 20 (21), pp. 6373, November 2020. [DOI, BibTeX, More details]
  16. Anatolij Zubow, Piotr Gawłowicz and Falko Dressler, "On Phase Offsets of 802.11ac Commodity WiFi," arXiv, eess.SP, 2005.03755, May 2020. [DOI, BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  17. Felix Erlacher, Falko Dressler and Jan-Thomas Fischer, "New Insights on a Sensor Network based Measurement Platform for Avalanche Dynamics," Proceedings of International Snow Science Workshop (ISSW 2018), Innsbruck, Austria, October 2018, pp. 31–34. [BibTeX, PDF, More details]
  18. Felix Erlacher, Bernhard Weber, Jan-Thomas Fischer and Falko Dressler, "AvaRange - Using Sensor Network Ranging Techniques to Explore the Dynamics of Avalanches," Proceedings of 12th IEEE/IFIP Conference on Wireless On demand Network Systems and Services (WONS 2016), Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, January 2016, pp. 120–123. [BibTeX, PDF, More details]
Last modified: 2024-02-27