DR. Ralph Lugon


Phone: +41 26 300 xx xx  | Fax: +41 26 300 97 46

E-mail: ralph.lugon(at)hevs.ch


Function: Scientific coordinator, Swiss National Science Foundation Project 2011 - 2013, Glacial archaeology
in Valais, Swiss Alps 

Personal Info

Academic Qualification

  • 1998 : PhD thesis at the Geography Department, Faculty of Sciences, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 1993-1997 : Was awarded scholarship for PhD from the Swiss National Science Foundation in the National Research Program 31 “Climate Change and Natural Hazards”


  • Conducting studies in Earth Sciences and interdisciplinary research with social scientists, archaeologists and historians
  • Providing consultancy services and environmental assessment to the private sector, public administration (at the local, cantonal and federal level) and non-governmental organizations
  • Providing consultancy services to the tourism sector
  • Collaboration with engineering and environmental consulting firms, biologists, land use experts, communications experts and economists

Professional Experience

  • Present: Institut de Tourisme, Sierre. Conducting studies and consultancy services in the tourism sector / Geography Unit, University of Fribourg. Glacial archaeology project in the Valais, Swiss Alps. http://www.glacialarchaeology.com/
  • 2009-2010 - The Graduate Institute of International and Development studies, Geneva. Developed and conducted capacity building activities and multi-stakeholder dialogues on climate services for adaptation and decision-making, in the context of the World Climate Conference 3 (WCC-3) hosted by the World Meteorological Organisation, Geneva (31.08-4.09.2009). Targeted audience : diplomatic community, international organisations, civil society, public and private sector
  • 2001-2008: Institut universitaire Kurt Bösch, Bramois/Sion. Conducted research projects on climate change impacts in high mountain areas, glaciers and permafrost zone.
  • 1999-2003: Hintermann & Weber ltd, environmental consulting firm, Montreux. Designed, managed and conducted nature conservation projects, land-use planning, biodiversity monitoring, natural hazard and natural resources management programs for the private sector, local NGOs and public bodies, from the municipal to the national level 


  • Cryosphere
  • Mountain permafrost
  • Climate change
  • Glacial archaeology
  • Geomorphology
  • Natural hazards
  • Spatial analysis


Current research project

  • Swiss National Science Foundation Project 2011 – present: Modeling archaeological potential of high altitude passes and trails in the Pennine Alps (Valais and borders) http://www.glacialarchaeology.com/


Mandates: selection of collaborative projects

Tourismus – since 2012. Setting up of the Valais / Wallis Tourismus Observatory. Client: Service du développement économique, Canton of Valais. http://www.tourobs.ch/

Strategy – water management –2012. Proposal for the setting up of a Centre of Competence for Water, Canton of Valais, consortium of four consulting and engineering firms. Client: Service des Forêts et du Paysage (Forestry and Landscape Service), Canton of Valais

Environmental governance – 2009. Through the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, organized the side-event “Climate information for decision-making” at the World Climate Conference-3, World Meteorological Organization, 1 September 2009, Geneva. 100 participants. Client: Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, International Affairs Division. http://www.gfcs-climate.org/

Conference – 2009. Organised the International Conference on “Environmental Change and Its Impact on Human Societies”, 8-9 October 2009, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. Event organised under the aegis of the newly endowed Chair for Environmental Economics funded by Mr. André Hoffmann. 150 participants, 15 speakers.

Natural hazard in mountain permafrost zone – 2008. Slope instabilities in permafrost zones, Canton of Valais. Client : Programme de coopération territoriale France-Suisse INTERREG IIIA. Download report in French: http://www.institutmontagne.org/IMG/pdf/Volet1_RLugon.pdf

Space-borne remote sensing – 2005 to 2008. Slope movement detection in high mountain area using SAR interferometry (Synthetic Aperture Radar systems); in particular, detection of movements in permafrost slopes, Valais Alps, Switzerland. Client:  Service for Landslides Monitoring; European Space Agency and Swiss Federal Office for the Environment.

Geological heritage inventory project – 2003. Identifying the geological values of the Valais territory for improved conservation and management. Client: Service des Forêts et du Paysage (Forestry and Landscape Service), Canton of Valais.

Biodiversity Monitoring – 1999 to 2003. Birds survey and biodiversity indicator development to measure species diversity in landscapes and habitats. Client: Swiss Federal Office for the Environment. http://www.biodiversitymonitoring.ch/en/home.html

Communication and public relations – 1999 to 2003. Fondation Nature et Economie. Communication and promotion of the ideas of the foundation, i.e. natural landscaping of industrial zones, and management of the certification process. Client: Association suisse des sables et graviers and Erdgas, both professional associations. http://www.natureeteconomie.ch/

Environmental Impact Studies for landscape and species conservation – 2001. Ski-lifts modernisation in Jaman ski resort, Montreux municipality. Propositions for compensation measures for the conservation of an important population of black grouse, Tetrao Tetrix. Client: Golden Pass Services, Montreux Riviera Transports.


  • Rogers, S.R., Collet, C. & Lugon, R., in press. Least cost path analysis for predicting glacial archaeological site potential in central Europe. Proceedings of CAA 2013 (Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology) conference, Perth, Australia.
  • Lugon R., Stoffel M. - 2010. Rock glacier dynamics and frequency-magnitude relationships of debris-flows activity in a high elevation watershed : Ritigraben, Swiss Alps, Global and Planetary Change 73, 202-210. pdf
  • Wiegandt E., Lugon R. - 2008. Challenges of living with glaciers in the Swiss Alps, past and present. In: Ben Orlove, Ellen Wiegandt and Brian Luckman (eds), The Darkening Peaks : Glacial Retreat in Scientific and Social Context, University of California Press, Berkeley, 33-48. Download pre-publication draft pdf text pdf notes
  • Lambiel, C., Delaloye, R., Strozzi, T., Lugon, R. et Raetzo, H. - 2008. ERS InSAR for assessing rock glacier activity. Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Permafrost, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1: 1019-1025.pdf.
  • Lugon R., Pralong Jean-Pierre, Reynard Emmanuel - 2006. Patrimoine culturel et géomorphologie : le cas valaisan de quelques blocs erratiques, d’une marmite glaciaire et d’une moraine, Bulletin de la Murithienne 124, 73-87
  • Lugon R., Delaloye R., Serrano E., Reynard E., Lambiel C., González-Trueba J.-J. - 2004. Permafrost and Little Ice Age Glaciers Relationships, Posets Massif, Central Pyrennes, Spain, Permafrost and Periglacial Processes 15, 207-220.pdf
  • Lugon R., Reynard Emmanuel  - 2003: Pour un inventaire des géotopes du Canton du Valais, Bulletin de la Murithienne 121, 83-97. 
  • Lugon R., Delaloye R. - 2001 : Modelling alpine permafrost distribution, Val de Réchy, Valais Alps (Switzerland), Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography, Vol. 55., 245-252.
  • Lugon R., Gardaz J.-M., Vonder Mühll D. - 2000: The partial collapse of the Dolent glacier moraine (Swiss Alps, Mont Blanc Range), Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Bd. 222, 191-208.
  • Lugon R., Monbaron M. - 1998 : Stabilité des terrains meubles en zone de pergélisol et changements climatiques. Deux études de cas en Valais: le Ritigraben (Mattertal) et la moraine du Dolent (Val Ferret). Rapport scientifique final pour le Programme national de recherche 31 (PNR 31), vdf Horschulverlag, ETH Zürich, 110 p. Download pre-publication draft in French pdf
  • Rebetez M., Lugon R., Baeriswyl P.-A. - 1997 : Climatic change and debris flows in high mountain regions : the case study of the Ritigraben torrent (Swiss Alps), Climatic Change, Vol. 36, Nos 3-4, 371-389.pdf


Unit of Geography - Chemin du Musée 4 - 1700 Fribourg - Tel +41 26 / 300 90 10 - Fax +41 26 / 300 9746
nicole.equey [at] unifr.ch - Swiss University