The International Classification for Seasonal Snow on the Ground (ICSSG)

The revised ICSSG has been published 2009 by the International Hydrological Programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO-IHP), Paris, in the series  
IHP Technical Documents in Hydrology No. 83 | IACS Contribution No. 1.


This document is the result of a ICSI-UCCS-IACS Working Group on Snow Classification and is the fourth of a series started in 1954 with revisions in 1970 and 1990. The report has been widely and internationally reviewed by peer snow researchers to constitute a new standard for snow classification. Many observational guidelines around the world are based on the above classification. The Working Group efforts have resulted in an UNESCO-IHP report detailing the snow classification scheme as well as a series of type faces for printing snow classification symbols. Today this work is set forth with the publication of the guide on measurement of snow (see GIMO).

In addition, an international data format for exchanging snow profiles has been developed based on the Canadian Avalanche Association Markup Language (CAAML).

Original Publication :

The International Classification for Seasonal Snow on the Ground.
(Higher resolution pdf: 7.6 MB) (Lower resolution UNESCO pdf: 3.4 MB)
Includes a multi-lingual list of terms in French, Spanish, Russian, and German.
NOTE: Photo #05 has been replaced with the correct one in the high resolution version.

Full length translations :

Russian (pdf: 3.2 MB)
Italian (available from AINEVA)

Snow Symbols IACS :

Type face files :
Documentation (pdf, 81 kb)
Adobe Type 1 (zip, 19 kb)
TrueType (zip, 11 kb)
OpenType (zip, 7 kb)

Type face copyright:
Version 1.030.
22 September 2008, International Association of Cryospheric Sciences IACS
Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ZHdK
Stefan Huber, Signalwerk GmbH (sh (at)

Web resources :
IACS gratefully acknowledges the set of web-usable snow symbols provided by our Norwegian colleagues from NGI.

IACS – CAAML Int’l Snow Profile Exchange Format :

IACS worked with a group of developers to come up with an international exchange format for snow profile based on the open source Canadian Avalanche Association Markup Language CAAML. For detailed info please visit CAAML V6.0 Profile – Snow Profile IACS or have a look at background information for CAAML profiles here.

In addition, IACS joined an international consortium to sponsor the integration of a CAAML snow profile record module in the software package niViz.

Observational Guidelines :

Canada : Observation Guidelines and Recording Standards (OGRS)
USA : Snow, Weather, and Avalanches: Observational Guidelines for Avalanche Programs in the United States (SWAG)
New Zealand : New Zealand Guidelines for Weather Snow and Avalanche Observations (MSC)