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Skier triggering, snow temperatures and the stability index for dry-slab avalanche initiation

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For more than 30 years the quantitative method of evaluating stability (e.g.Roch, 1966; Fohn, 1987; Jamieson, 1995; Jamieson and Johnston, 1998a) has been focused on calculation ora strength-to-load ratio (or stability index): when the shear stress applied to the weak layer reaches the shcar strength, failure is imminent. However, field observations combined with experience and measurements indicate that snow-slab temperatures and slab hardness can have a strong influence on dry-snow slab stability. In this paper, we present a simple static analysis of the stability index, and discuss the importance of slab temperatures and hardness and macroscopic size effects (factors not contained in the stability index) on snow-slab stability. Our conclusion is that the traditional method lacks some elements which arc very important in snow-slab stability, particularly when skier triggering is involved.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 1999

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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