There are obviously limitations to gathering comprehensive scientific data from naturally occurring avalanches, but there is one place in the world dedicated to measuring the speed, snow density, height of flow and even snow temperature of avalanches. If you’re interested in a scholarly article about the test site, Vallée de la Sionne, please continue reading HERE.
Here is a description of the site from the SLF website:
“The full-scale avalanche dynamics test site Vallée de la Sionne (VdlS) is providing scientists and engineers with essential data to understand and model avalanche motion. The site has been in operation since the winter 1997/98 and represents the cornerstone of snow avalanche dynamics research at the SLF. Partly destroyed by the extreme avalanches of 1999, the site was later rebuilt and now contains a unique collection of robust, field hardened sensors to measure avalanche velocity and impact pressure. At VdlS pre- and post-event field campaigns with manual measurements are coupled with advanced remote sensing techniques to obtain a detailed picture of snow avalanche flow. Important questions such as how avalanches dissipate flow energy and the role of snow cover entrainment in determining avalanche runout have been investigated. Results from VdlS have been used to advance avalanche dynamics models – most notably the RAMMS software — and validate Switzerland’s snow hazard mapping guidelines.”