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Slab avalanche release area estimation: a new GIS tool


Veitinger, Jochen; Sovilla, Betty; Purves, Ross S (2014). Slab avalanche release area estimation: a new GIS tool. In: International Snow Science Workshop 2014, Banff (Canada), 29 September 2014 - 3 October 2014, 256-262.

Abstract

Location and extent of avalanche starting zones are of crucial importance to correctly estimate the potential danger that avalanches pose to roads, railways or other infrastructure. Presently, release area assessment is based on terrain analysis combined with expert judgment. Tools for the automatic definition of release areas are scarce and exclusively based on parameters derived from summer topography, such as slope and curvature. This leads to several limitations concerning the performance of such algorithms. Foremost, they neglect the smoothing effect of the snow cover on terrain morphology. Winter terrain often considerably deviates from its underlying summer terrain, thus changing potential release area size and location of surface slab avalanches. Hence, we present a new GIS based tool which estimates potential release areas by association of traditional contributory variables, such as slope and forest cover with variables particularly related to snow cover influence on topography. We introduce a scale dependent roughness parameter and a wind shelter parameter accounting for varying winter topography and snow deposition patterns with increasing snow depth. Further, uncertainty in the definition of the parameters is accounted for by using a fuzzy logic classification approach. This approach is especially useful for defining release area scenarios e.g. depending on snow depth, which is not possible with existing tools.

Abstract

Location and extent of avalanche starting zones are of crucial importance to correctly estimate the potential danger that avalanches pose to roads, railways or other infrastructure. Presently, release area assessment is based on terrain analysis combined with expert judgment. Tools for the automatic definition of release areas are scarce and exclusively based on parameters derived from summer topography, such as slope and curvature. This leads to several limitations concerning the performance of such algorithms. Foremost, they neglect the smoothing effect of the snow cover on terrain morphology. Winter terrain often considerably deviates from its underlying summer terrain, thus changing potential release area size and location of surface slab avalanches. Hence, we present a new GIS based tool which estimates potential release areas by association of traditional contributory variables, such as slope and forest cover with variables particularly related to snow cover influence on topography. We introduce a scale dependent roughness parameter and a wind shelter parameter accounting for varying winter topography and snow deposition patterns with increasing snow depth. Further, uncertainty in the definition of the parameters is accounted for by using a fuzzy logic classification approach. This approach is especially useful for defining release area scenarios e.g. depending on snow depth, which is not possible with existing tools.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Event End Date:3 October 2014
Deposited On:09 Jan 2015 12:57
Last Modified:15 Aug 2017 23:57
Publisher:Montana State University Library
Additional Information:International Snow Science Workshop Proceedings 2014
Official URL:http://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/ISSW14_paper_O10.04.pdf
Related URLs:http://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/search.php?workshop=%22International+Snow+Science+Workshop+Proceedings+2014%22&start=30&limit=15

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