Model development in avalanche forecasting
Alec van Herwijnen gives an overview of recent efforts at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, Switzerland, to develop models for avalanche forecasting.
In mountain regions in winter, snow avalanches are relatively frequent and widespread. Compared to other gravitational mass movements, such as landslides or debris flows, snow avalanches occur much more frequently and over a broader geographical area. This has enabled avalanche forecasters to gain practical experience and develop rule-based empirical methods to manage the danger of this ubiquitous natural hazard. However, the ability to forecast avalanches, i.e. predicting snow instability in space and time, is limited by current experience-based forecasting practices. Improvements in terms of spatial and temporal resolution can only be made through model development. In this talk, I will give an overview of recent efforts at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF in Davos, Switzerland, to develop models for avalanche forecasting - from mechanical models to better understand the fundamental processes leading to avalanche release to snow cover models to provide real-time information on snow stratigraphy and stability.