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Department of Geography

Scientific Image Competition: Distinction for "Rainfall Simulation in the Alps"

The picture taken by Florian Lustenberger, MSc student and teaching assistant at the Department of Geography, won a distinction in the Scientific Image Competition of the Swiss National Science Foundation. It shows the artificial rainfall simulation on the 1990s moraine of the Stein-Glacier near the Susten pass in the Bernese Alps.

Rainfall simulations in the alps

The rainfall simulation is used to study how soil development affects hydrological processes, particularly how much water flows over the surface and how much sickers into the soil. The photo was taken during high intensity rainfall simulation, which would naturally occur only once in a hundred years on average.
Comment of the Jury: 
While the topic is serious – the interconnections between climate change, rainwater and soil – the viewer is surprised by an apparently surreal situation: artificial rain created high up in the mountains. The photograph depicts practical field research as a pursuit which requires hard and even physical work, while suggesting the sense of insecurity we feel in the light of the Anthropocene and the challenges it poses for humanity.

SNSF Scientific Image Competition

"Rainfall Simulation in the Alps" on Flickr

Copyright: CC-BY-NC-ND: Florian Lustenberger

All the award-winning entries as well as many others are shown at this year’s Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography from 10 May to 2 June 2019.​

Biel/Bienne Festival of Photography

Weiterführende Informationen


The picture was taken in the context of a collaborative, multidisciplinary research project of the University of Zurich, the University of Freiburg and the German Research Centre for Geosciences: HILLSlope Chronosequence And Process Evolution (HILLSCAPE)