Infrasound array criteria for automatic detection and front velocity estimation of snow avalanches: towards a real-time early-warning system
Abstract. Avalanche risk management is strongly related to the ability to identify and timely report the occurrence of snow avalanches. Infrasound has been applied to avalanche research and monitoring for the last 20 years but it never turned into an operational tool to identify clear signals related to avalanches. We present here a method based on the analysis of infrasound signals recorded by a small aperture array in Ischgl (Austria), which provides a significant improvement to overcome this limit. The method is based on array-derived wave parameters, such as back azimuth and apparent velocity. The method defines threshold criteria for automatic avalanche identification by considering avalanches as a moving source of infrasound. We validate the efficiency of the automatic infrasound detection with continuous observations with Doppler radar and we show how the velocity of a snow avalanche in any given path around the array can be efficiently derived. Our results indicate that a proper infrasound array analysis allows a robust, real-time, remote detection of snow avalanches that is able to provide the number and the time of occurrence of snow avalanches occurring all around the array, which represent key information for a proper validation of avalanche forecast models and risk management in a given area.