Also known as
Model type Single
Model part of larger framework
Incorporated models or components:
Spatial dimensions 1D
Spatial extent
Model domain Cryosphere
One-line model description SNOWPACK is a multi-purpose snow and land-surface model, which focuses on a detailed description of the mass and energy exchange between the snow, the atmosphere and optionally with the vegetation cover and the soil. It also includes a detailed treatment of mass and energy fluxes within these media.
Extended model description SNOWPACK has originally been developed to support avalanche warning (Lehning et al., 1999) and thus features a very detailed description of snow properties including weak layer characterization (Stoessel et al., 2009), phase changes and water transport in snow (Hirashima et al., 2010). A particular feature is the treatment of soil and snow as a continuum with a choice of a few up to several hundred layers. While a main application is still on avalanche warning in countries from Switzerland (Schirmer et al., 2009) to Japan (Nishimura et al., 2005), the applications range from climate change assessments (Rasmus et al., 2004; Bavay et al., 2009) and superimposed ice simulations (Obleitner and Lehning, 2004) to permafrost sensitivity studies (Luetschg et al., 2008) and the simulation of snow storage (Olefs and Lehning, 2010).


First name Mathias
Last name Bavay
Type of contact Model developer
Institute / Organization WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Postal address 1
Postal address 2
Town / City Davos
Postal code 7260
Country Switzerland
Email address

Supported platforms Unix, Linux, Mac OS, Windows
Other platform
Programming language C++
Other program language
Code optimized Multiple Processors
Multiple processors implemented
Nr of distributed processors
Nr of shared processors
Start year development 2010
Does model development still take place? Yes
If above answer is no, provide end year model development
Code development status Active
When did you indicate the 'code development status'? 2020
Model availability As code
Source code availability
(Or provide future intension)
Through web repository
Source web address
Source csdms web address
Program license type GPL v3
Program license type other
Memory requirements --
Typical run time --

Describe input parameters It requires the following meteorological parameters:
  • air temperature (TA)
  • relative humidity (RH)
  • wind speed (VW)
  • incoming short wave radiation (ISWR) and/or reflected short wave radiation (RSWR)
  • incoming long wave radiation (ILWR) and/or surface temperature (TSS)
  • precipitation (PSUM) and/or snow height (HS)
  • ground temperature (TSG, if available. Otherwise, you will have to use MeteoIO's data generators to generate a value) or geothermal heat flux
  • snow temperatures at various depths (TS1, TS2, etc if available and only for comparisons, see section Snow and/or soil temperatures)
Input format
Other input format SMET:
Describe output parameters Snowpack creates various output files:
  • the current state of its soil and snow layers in ".sno" files;
  • the current state of its hazard relevant data in ".haz" files;
  • a time serie of snow profiles;
  • a time serie of the meteorological data and fluxes as used in the model.
Output format
Other output format
Pre-processing software needed? No
Describe pre-processing software
Post-processing software needed? No
Describe post-processing software
Visualization software needed? Yes
If above answer is yes
Other visualization software The niViz tool

Describe processes represented by the model
Describe key physical parameters and equations
Describe length scale and resolution constraints
Describe time scale and resolution constraints
Describe any numerical limitations and issues

Describe available calibration data sets
Upload calibration data sets if available:
Describe available test data sets
Upload test data sets if available:
Describe ideal data for testing

Do you have current or future plans for collaborating with other researchers?
Is there a manual available? No
Upload manual if available:
Model website if any
Model forum / discussion board
Comments See also:

This part will be filled out by CSDMS staff

OpenMI compliant No but possible
BMI compliant No but possible
WMT component No but possible
PyMT component No but possible
Is this a data component
Can be coupled with:
Model info
Mathias Bavay
Nr. of publications: 19
Total citations: 2018
h-index: 17
Qrcode SNOWPACK.png
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Nr. of publications: 19
Total citations: 2018
h-index: 17

Featured publication(s)YearModel describedType of ReferenceCitations
Lehning, Michael; Bartelt, Perry; Brown, Bob; Fierz, Charles; Satyawali, Pramod; 2002-11-01. A physical SNOWPACK model for the Swiss avalanche warning. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 35, 147–167. 10.1016/S0165-232X(02)00073-3
(View/edit entry)
Model overview 362
Lehning, Michael; Bartelt, Perry; Brown, Bob; Russi, Tom; Stöckli, Urs; Zimmerli, Martin; 1999-12-01. snowpack model calculations for avalanche warning based upon a new network of weather and snow stations. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 30, 145–157. 10.1016/S0165-232X(99)00022-1
(View/edit entry)
Model overview 191
See more publications of SNOWPACK



Input Files

Output Files