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Disputation: Felix Matt

Doctoral candidate Felix Matt at the Department of Geosciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, is  defending the thesis "Impacts of Light-Absorbing Impurities in Snow and Ice on Hydrology" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

Felix Matt. Photo: Private

Felix Matt. Photo: Private

Trial lecture - time and place

Tuesday 26 November, 10:15–11:00, Auditorium 1, the Geology building:

"Big data" and artificial intelligence approaches for the hydrological sciences


Conferral summary (in Norwegian)

Når små mørke partikler fra forbrenning av fossilt brensel, skogbrann eller støvutslipp fra ørkener blir transportert til snødekkede regioner og legger seg på snøen, blir snøen mørkere. Siden mørkere snø tar opp mer sollys leder det til høyere snøsmelting og påvirker dermed vannføring i elvene. Hovedbidraget til denne avhandlingen er en hydrologisk modell som tar høyde for denne effekten. Modellen viser signifikant påvirkning fra partiklene i snøen til snøsmelting og vannføring i regioner i Norge og Indisk Himalaya. Videre blir satellitt data som viser mørkeeffekten brukt til å forbedre modellberegningene.

Main research findings

Popular scientific article about Matt’s dissertation:

The effect of snow darkening particles on snow melt and streamflow

About one sixth of the world’s population is dependent on fresh water supply from snow or glacier melt. A detailed understanding of what drives the timing and quantity of snow melt and streamflow is therefore paramount, particularly in a changing climate. This PhD thesis focused on a mechanism that affects both the timing and amount of snow melt: small particles mixed within the snow that darken the snow surface and accelerate snow melt through increased absorption of solar radiation. These particles originate from both human and natural sources, such as the combustion of fossil fuels, forest fires, and dust from soils and deserts.

The satellite images show the western Himalayas before, during, and after a dust storm in May-June/2003. Strong winds transported dust from the Thar desert in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent to the southern slopes of the Himalaya. The dust deposited on snow and led to a darkening of the snow surface. This darkening effect has implications for snow melt and streamflow as more solar radiation is absorbed by the snow. Image: Felix Matt

The main contribution of this thesis was the development of a snow model that allows the consideration of this darkening effect and the application within a hydrological model. The model simulations reveal significant consequences of the effect for snow melt and streamflow in study regions located in Norway and the Indian Himalayas. Another major outcome was the development of an approach that allowed to improve model predictions by using satellite data giving an estimate on the darkening effect. Combining model predictions with satellite data further allowed to improve the estimate of the amount of particles transported to the study region in the Himalayas. Finally, this thesis also raised attention to the limitations of the model and quantified the uncertainties of the model predictions.


Photo and other information:

Press photo: Felix Matt (portrait)

Other photo material: Satellitte images, West Himalaya before, during and after a dust storm. Image: Felix Matt


Published Nov. 12, 2019 9:50 AM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2019 1:35 PM