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