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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-81
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-81
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  27 Mar 2020

27 Mar 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal NHESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Accounting for Non-stationarity in Extreme Snow Loads: a Comparison with Building Standards in the French Alps

Erwan Le Roux1, Guillaume Evin1, Nicolas Eckert1, Juliette Blanchet2, and Samuel Morin3 Erwan Le Roux et al.
  • 1Univ. Grenoble Alpes, INRAE, UR ETNA
  • 2Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble INP, CNRS, IRD, IGE
  • 3Univ. Grenoble Alpes, Univ. Toulouse, Météo-France, CNRS, CNRM, CEN Grenoble

Abstract. In a context of climate change, trends in extreme snow loads need to be determined to minimize the risk of structure collapse.We study trends in annual maxima of ground snow load (GSL) using non-stationary extreme value models. Trends in return levels of GSL are assessed at a mountain massif scale from GSL data, provided for the French Alps from 1959 to 2019 by a meteorological reanalysis and a snowpack model. Our results indicate a temporal decrease in 50-year return levels from 900 m to 4200 m, significant in the Northwest of the French Alps until 2100 m. Despite this decrease, in half of the massifs, the return level in 2019 at 1800 m exceeds the return level designed for French building standards under a stationary assumption. We believe that this high number of exceedances is due to questionable assumptions concerning the computation of current standards. For example, these were devised with GSL, estimated from snow depth and constant snow density set to 150 kg m−3, which underestimate typical GSL values for the full snowpack.

Erwan Le Roux et al.

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Erwan Le Roux et al.

Erwan Le Roux et al.

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Latest update: 29 Sep 2020
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Short summary
To minimize the risk of structure collapse due to extreme snow loads, structure standards rely on 50-year return levels of ground snow load (GSL), i.e. levels exceeded once every 50 years in average, that do not account for climate change. We study GSL data in the French Alps massifs from 1959 and 2019 and find that these 50-year return levels are decreasing with time between 900 m and 4800 m of altitude, but still exceed return levels of structure standards for half of the massifs at 1800 m.
To minimize the risk of structure collapse due to extreme snow loads, structure standards rely...
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