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A system for prediction of avalanche hazard in the windy climate of Iceland

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A system for predicting avalanche hazard in the windy climate of Vestfirðir, northwest Iceland, is presented. The system is based on (a) numerical simulations of the snowpack and evaluation of avalanche hazard due to overloading by the snow models SAFRAN–Crocus and MÉPRA, and (b) observations of wind speed in the mountains used as a proxy for snowdrift. The system was tested during two winter seasons and correctly predicts 30 out of 35 avalanche days. The 5 missing days feature either large spatial gradients in precipitation or very strong winds a few days before the avalanches, indicating much snowdrift. A comparison of the simulated avalanche hazard and observations of avalanches confirms that snowdrift is of primary importance not only for large avalanches, as already established, but also for small and medium-size avalanches in Vestfirðir. The system is a first step towards an objective evaluation of avalanche hazard in Iceland.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2004

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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