Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2022-11
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2022-11
 
24 Jan 2022
24 Jan 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal NHESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Automated avalanche hazard indication mapping on state wide scale

Yves Bühler1,2, Peter Bebi1,2, Marc Christen1,2, Stefan Margreth1, Lukas Stoffel1, Andreas Stoffel1,2, Christoph Marty1, Gregor Schmucki1,2, Andrin Caviezel1,2, Roderick Kühne3, Stephan Wohlwend4, and Perry Bartelt1,2 Yves Bühler et al.
  • 1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos Dorf, 7260, Switzerland
  • 2Climate Change, Extremes and Natural Hazards in Alpine Regions Research Center CERC, 7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
  • 3Department of Forest and Natural Hazards AWN, Canton Grisons, Chur 7000, Switzerland
  • 4Office for Civil Protection, Government of Liechtenstein, Vaduz 9490, Liechtenstein

Abstract. Snow avalanche hazard mapping has a long tradition in the European Alps. Hazard maps delineate areas of potential avalanche danger and are only available for selected areas where people and significant infrastructure are endangered. They have been created over generations, at specific sites, mainly based on avalanche activity in the past. For a large part of the area (90 % in the case of the Canton of Grisons) no maps are available. This is a problem when new territory with no or incomplete historical record is to be developed. It is an even larger problem when trying to predict the effects of climate change at the state scale where the historical record may no longer be valid. To close this gap, we develop an automated approach to generate spatial continuous hazard indication mapping based on a digital elevation model for the canton of Grisons (7105 km2) in the Swiss Alps. We calculate eight different scenarios with return periods ranging from frequent to very rare as well as with and without taking the protective effects of the forest into account. This approach combines the automated delineation of potential release areas, the calculation of release depths and the numerical simulation of the avalanche dynamics. This procedure can be applied worldwide, where high spatial resolution digital elevation models, detailed information on the forest and data on the snow climate are available, enabling reproducible hazard indication mapping also in regions where no avalanche hazard maps yet exist. This is invaluable for climate change studies. The simulation results are validated with official hazard maps, by assessments of avalanche experts and by existing avalanche cadastres derived from manual mapping and mapping based on satellite datasets. The results for the canton of Grisons are now operationally applied in the daily hazard assessment work of the authorities. Based on these experiences, the proposed approach can be applied for further mountain regions.

Yves Bühler et al.

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2022-11', Patrizia Köpfli, 28 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Yves Bühler, 09 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2022-11', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Yves Bühler, 24 Mar 2022

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2022-11', Patrizia Köpfli, 28 Feb 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Yves Bühler, 09 Mar 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2022-11', Anonymous Referee #2, 21 Mar 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Yves Bühler, 24 Mar 2022

Yves Bühler et al.

Yves Bühler et al.

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Short summary
To calculate and visualize the potential avalanche hazard, we develop a method that automatically and efficiently pinpoints avalanche starting zones and simulate their runout for the entire canton of Grisons. The maps produced in this way highlight areas that could be endangered by avalanches, and are extremely useful in multiple applications for the cantonal authoroties, including the planning of new infrastructure, making alpine regions more safe.
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