Articles | Volume 5, issue 6
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 5, 893–901, 2005

Special issue: Multidisciplinary approaches in natural hazard and risk...

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 5, 893–901, 2005

  09 Nov 2005

09 Nov 2005

The long-term development of avalanche risk in settlements considering the temporal variability of damage potential

S. Fuchs1, M. Keiler2, A. Zischg3, and M. Bründl4 S. Fuchs et al.
  • 1alpS Centre for Natural Hazard Management, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, Austria
  • 3Geo Information Management, Gargazzone, Italy
  • 4WSL Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland

Abstract. Recent studies on the avalanche risk in alpine settlements suggested a strong dependency of the development of risk on variations in damage potential. Based on these findings, analyses on probable maximum losses in avalanche-prone areas of the municipality of Davos (CH) were used as an indicator for the long-term development of values at risk. Even if the results were subject to significant uncertainties, they underlined the dependency of today's risk on the historical development of land-use: Small changes in the lateral extent of endangered areas had a considerable impact on the exposure of values. In a second step, temporal variations in damage potential between 1950 and 2000 were compared in two different study areas representing typical alpine socio-economic development patterns: Davos (CH) and Galtür (A). The resulting trends were found to be similar; the damage potential increased significantly in number and value. Thus, the development of natural risk in settlements can for a major part be attributed to long-term shifts in damage potential.