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The effects of El Niño and La Niña on snow and avalanche patterns in British Columbia, Canada, and central Chile

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Abstract:

El Niño and La Niña affect global climate and atmospheric circulation to determine winter temperature and precipitation patterns. Both winter temperatures and the associated precipitation patterns have effects on mountain snow deposition and snow avalanche occurrences. Approximately 25 000 slab avalanches from 30 winters were analyzed in relation to snowfall patterns contrasted for El Niño and La Niña winters for two avalanche areas with different snow climates in British Columbia (BC), Canada. La Niña winters were shown to produce more snow, more avalanches and a higher percentage of dry avalanches than wet avalanches. The data and analysis show that the avalanche patterns depend on the altitude and snow climate. Analysis of snowfall and accident data from the Andes of Chile suggests behavior opposite to BC. El Niño winters in central Chile produced the most snow and, by inference, the most avalanches. This paper is the first to show the links of El Niño and La Niña to snow avalanche activity.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3189/2013JoG12J192

Publication date: 2013-08-01

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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.

    Beginning in 2016, content will be available at https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-glaciology.
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