OPTics for ICE and snow



Knowing the optical properties of past and present aerosol is very important in climate modelling for describing the climate change. For this aim Marco Potenza has developed a new optical instrument: the Single Particle Extinction and Scattering (SPES). By measuring the interference between the transmitted and the scattered field we have access to the extinction cross section (Cext) and the dimensionless optical thickness (ρ) of single particles.


On a global scale, mineral dust accounts for the major contribution to the mass load of airborne particles in the atmosphere. It consists of micron-sized minerals mainly deflated from arid and semiarid regions by eolian processes. It can affect glaciers reducing the albedo and increasing melting or can transform the snowpack leading the formation weak layers that increase the avalanche risk. 

Ice & Snow

Snow and ice cores provide a privileged archive to reconstruct the Earth’s past atmospheric composition. The albedo evaluation is important not only for climate modelling but also to estimate the melting of the snowpack. Moreover, the avalanches forecasting is strictly linked to the properties of the crystals in the snowpack and the presence of mineral dust can modify the structure and increase the formation of weak surfaces.

a little about...


“The optical properties of dust in snow and ice to
investigate the climate change and
improve the avalanche forecasting”

OPTICE is a scientific multidisciplinary project aimed at determining and studying the optical properties of dust in the snowpack and ice cores and the optical properties of ice and snow crystals.
The research activity is driven by people having different backgrounds and experiences and we belive that multidisciplinary studies are essentials for the comprehension of the complex climate systems and the cryosphere.
Through the use of videos, documents, interviews, conferences and meetings in schools we think it’s possible to transmit adequate notions on the cryosphere and climate change as well as raise public awareness before ice and snow will be only a memory in the Alps.



The OPTICE project is not funded by any research institution, it’s made from the passion and resources of its components and it can survive thanks to the support of some brands that believe in scientific research. We’ll never be grateful enought for that!