Valley station Eibseebahn
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valley station Eibseebahn 990m asl. N-Mast. S-Mast. pier 1. N. pier 2. Eibseebahn 1970 m alt.diff. Zugspitze summit 2962 m asl. masts. 9m. Gletscherbahn 384 m alt. diff. Sonn Alpin 2576 m asl. 3.7m. 2.6m. Universität zu Köln.

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valley station Eibseebahn

990m asl



pier 1


pier 2

Eibseebahn 1970 m alt.diff.

Zugspitze summit 2962 m asl



Gletscherbahn 384 m alt. diff.

Sonn Alpin 2576 m asl.



Universität zu Köln

Bannerclouds at Mount Zugspitze in GermanyJan H. Schween1, Jochen Reuder21Meteorological Inst. Univ. Munich, currently at Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology University of Cologne, Germany , 2currently at Geophysical Institute, University of Bergen, Norway

air inside cloud is warmer than windward air


Banner clouds are clouds resembling a banner or flag which form on the leeward side of ridges or peaked mountains. While the windward side of the mountain remains cloud free the cloud forms only on the leeward side.

Mount Zugspitze (2962m asl) in the german alps is served from three sides with cable cars. This and the infrastructure on the top of the montain gave us the opportunity to perform continous measurements.

  • Continous Measurements

  • The cable cars on the northern side (Eibseebahn) and on the southern side (Gletscherbahn) of the mountain were each equipped with temperature (T), humidity (rH) and pressure (P) sensors. The cable cars make every day between 18 and 70 rides giving nearly continous measurements. Measures are corrected for the inertia of the sensors with the method described in Poster EGU2007-A-10058;

  • Two masts were set up at the ridge west of the summit and equipped with wind (v), T and rH sensors to measure the conditions close to the point of confluence of windward and leeward air.

  • A webcam at the DWD Station at the summit takes every 5s an image. Images are cut to movies giving information about formation and development of banner clouds. These movies were used to derive a definition of banner clouds (Schween et al. 2006)

6.10.2005 16:41



Banner cloud present

Banner cloud present

Lifting condensation levels (LCL) from radiosounding

  • Results

  • Banner clouds do not form only on peaked mountains like the Matterhorn but also on ridges as the one at mount Zugspitze shown here.

  • Banner clouds occur mostly during postfrontal situations with slightly stable stratification.

  • The cloud forms due to forced lifting.

  • Windspeeds at the ridge were during banner cloud episodes at minimum 3 m/s

  • Vertical and horizontal extent of the cloud seem to depend strongly on wind speed, stratification and humidity distribution.

  • The air inside the cloud is by several K warmer than the air from the windward side flowing above the cloud.


Schween J.H., Küttner J., Reinert D., Reuder J., Wirth V. 2006 Defintion of "banner clouds" based on time lapse movies, ACPD 6 vol.5, pp 9995-10019,

Schween, J.H. 2007, A method to overcome the problem of ’slow’ sensors, Poster EGU2007-A-10058 at the EGU general assembly 2007

S side


We thank the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn (BZB) for the possibility to equip the cable cars with our instruments.

The personnel of the meteorological station Zugspitze of the German Meteorological Service (DWD) supports us with observations.

The project is granted by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

N side