Articles | Volume 13, issue 10
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 2619–2637, 2013
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 13, 2619–2637, 2013

Research article 22 Oct 2013

Research article | 22 Oct 2013

The price of safety: costs for mitigating and coping with Alpine hazards

C. Pfurtscheller1 and A. H. Thieken2 C. Pfurtscheller and A. H. Thieken
  • 1Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Institute of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Due to limited public budgets and the need to economize, the analysis of costs of hazard mitigation and emergency management of natural hazards becomes increasingly important for public natural hazard and risk management. In recent years there has been a growing body of literature on the estimation of losses which supported to help to determine benefits of measures in terms of prevented losses. On the contrary, the costs of mitigation are hardly addressed. This paper thus aims to shed some light on expenses for mitigation and emergency services. For this, we analysed the annual costs of mitigation efforts in four regions/countries of the Alpine Arc: Bavaria (Germany), Tyrol (Austria), South Tyrol (Italy) and Switzerland. On the basis of PPP values (purchasing power parities), annual expenses on public safety ranged from EUR 44 per capita in the Free State of Bavaria to EUR 216 in the Autonomous Province of South Tyrol. To analyse the (variable) costs for emergency services in case of an event, we used detailed data from the 2005 floods in the Federal State of Tyrol (Austria) as well as aggregated data from the 2002 floods in Germany. The analysis revealed that multi-hazards, the occurrence and intermixture of different natural hazard processes, contribute to increasing emergency costs. Based on these findings, research gaps and recommendations for costing Alpine natural hazards are discussed.