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On probability analysis in snow avalanche hazard zoning

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Abstract:

The reduced societal acceptance of living in regions exposed to snow avalanches, and the increased economic consequences when houses are located within a hazard zone, highlight the uncertainty concerning avalanche run-out prediction. The limitations of today's zoning procedures are especially pronounced in potential avalanche terrain where there are few observations of snow avalanches, where old buildings are present in the potential run-out zone, and where the local climate does not favour severe snow accumulation. This paper combines a mechanical probabilistic model for avalanche release with a statistical/topographical model for avalanche run-out distance to obtain the unconditional probability of extreme run-out distance. For the mechanical model, a first-order reliability method (FORM) and Monte Carlo simulations are compared. The interpretation of the statistical/topographical model either as an extreme value model or as a single value model is discussed. Furthermore, both a classical approach where the probability of an avalanche occurring is a constant, and a Bayesian approach with stochastic probability, are compared. Finally, example applications in hazard zoning are presented, with emphasis on how the influence of historical observations, local climate, etc., on run-out distance can be quantified in statistical terms and how a specified certainty level can be found from constructing confidence intervals for, for example, the most likely largest run-out distance during various time intervals.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3189/172756401781819085

Publication date: January 1, 2001

More about this publication?
  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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