Snow avalanche formation

Our understanding of snow avalanche formation has significantly increased in the last 2 decades because of field studies and numerical modeling of the effect of the contributing factors: terrain, new snow, wind, temperature and radiation, and snow cover stratigraphy

Jürg Schweizer

2003

Scholarcy highlights

  • Snow avalanches are a major natural hazard, endangering human life and infrastructure in mountainous areas throughout the world
  • We focus on dry snow slab avalanches because they represent the major type of avalanche hazard
  • Our understanding of snow avalanche formation has significantly increased in the last 2 decades because of field studies and numerical modeling of the effect of the contributing factors: terrain, new snow, wind, temperature and radiation, and snow cover stratigraphy
  • Progress in characterizing the complex microstructure of snow, in particular the number and size of bonds, and field studies on spatial variability of the snowpack and its effects on avalanche formation will pave the way for detailed modeling of failure criteria for avalanche forecasting
  • Whereas failure usually starts at the interface between two adjacent layers, even when the weak layer is thin, fracture propagation can involve the full thickness of layers
  • In order to approach a comprehensive understanding of snow avalanche formation we propose the following questions for future research for several areas, fracture propagation, spatial variability, effect of surface warming, wet snow avalanches, new snow stabilities, snow failure, and slab release

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