Key persons (please click on the names to view details)
- Preventive avalanche research was initiated in Austria after the Second World War establishing a snow research centre in the Wattener Lizum in Tyrol.
- Research was then transferred to Obergurgl, located 2000m above sea level. Here methods of high altitude afforestation have been investigated to replace expensive and complicated control construction techniques.
- In recent years increasing settlement pressure in the inner alpine valleys and the extension of ski areas, including infrastructure, to high altitudes necessitated extraordinary, permanent protection measures against avalanches.
- This and the rising number of tourism-related avalanches accidents has led to an intensification of avalanche research at the Federal Forest Research Centre (FBVA) in Vienna.
- In 1985 the avalanche research group was transferred to Innsbruck by establishing an avalanche research institute of the FBVA there. Projects of the FBVA are planned and carried out in close co-operation with the Provincial Divisions of the Austrian Service for Torrent and Avalanche Control.
- The main topics of the Austrian Institute for Avalanche and Torrent Research are:
- (1) Control Techniques and Avalanche Dynamics Studies and Modelling,
- (2) Snow and avalanche research,
- By intensive avalanche dynamics measurements it is possible to improve calculations of avalanche pressures and velocities and to define the boundaries of hazard zones more accurately. A mobile pulsed Doppler-radar facilitates the measurement of avalanche velocities spatially and temporally resolved. With this device it is possible to take field data on different slope and relief conditions. Because of comprehensive and sophisticated calculation methods, computer simulation models are increasingly used to elucidate the effects of avalanches.
- Investigations that deal with the dynamics of gliding snow avalanches in gaps within the protection forest are carried out, with the intention of damage assessment, remedial measures and the estimation of consequential costs. The deterioration of trees in protection forests caused by ageing, animal grazing, inappropriate management practices and air pollution may accelerate snow gliding on slopes steeper than 30 degrees. Gliding snow avalanches may occur occasionally. Under unfavourable weather conditions such avalanches may reach the valley bottom, menacing settlements and local infrastructure.
- Studies of current and historical avalanche disasters are used for determinations such as extreme-value analysis of climate data, runout lengths and damage, to be applied to planning tools for future protection measures (hazard zoning, protection projects) and as a basis for avalanche training. Austrian avalanche reports have been published at regular intervals since the winter of 1967/68. They contain a selection of research articles and accident analyses.
- Several computer-aided forecast models are offered as an important tool for the assessment of avalanche risk for the purpose of blocking or opening ski slopes and roads.
- Schaffhauser, H., Sauermoser, S. 1998. Practical Experience with the Austrian powder avalanche simulation model in hazard zoning. In: 25 Years of Snow and Avalanche Research, Voss, 12-16 May 1998, p. 229-233, NGI, Olso, Norway.
- Rammer, L. 1992. Dynamic measurements on powder avalanches. INTERPRAEVENT 1992 - Bern, Proceedings, 2, 421-432.
- Rammer, L. Kristensen, K. Lied, K. Schreiber, H. Randeu, W.L. 1998. Radar measurements of snow avalanche full scale experiment in Ryggfonn. In: 25 Years of Snow Avalanche Research, Voss 12th -16th May 1998, NGI Publication NR. 203, pp 215 - 219.
- Rammer, L. Schaffhauser, H. Sampl, P. 1998. Computed Powder Avalanche Impact Pressures on a Tunnel-bridge im Außerfern, Tirol. Proceedings of the IUFRO Division 8 Conference Environmental Forest Science, 19th - 23th Oct. 1998, Kyoto University, Japan, pp 599 - 605.
- Rammer, L. 2000. Avalanche dynamic measurement facility Großer Gröben, Avalanche on Feb. 21st, 2000. IUFRO International Workshop: Hazard Mapping in Avalanching Areas, 2nd - 7th April 2000, St. Christoph/St. Anton, Austria. Proceedings, pp 211- 223.
- Sailer, R., 2001b. Risk Assessment and Crisis Management for a winter tourist resort (St.Anton, Tyrol, Austria) - a case study (Part II). Proceedings of the First Annual IIASA-DPRI Meeting on Integrated Disaster Risk Management: Reducing socio-economic vulnerability. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria, accepted.
- Sailer, R. and Rammer, L., 2001. Recalculation of an artificial released avalanche with SAMOS and validation with measurements from a pulsed Doppler Radar. Natural Hazard and Earth System Science, submitted.