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Journal Article

Citation

Höller P. Cold Reg. Sci. Technol. 2017; 144: 89-95.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2017, Elsevier Publishing)

DOI

10.1016/j.coldregions.2017.06.006

PMID

unavailable

Abstract

Avalanches are one of the principal natural hazards in alpine regions, frequently resulting in property damage and fatalities. This paper indicates and analyses avalanche accidents and particularly avalanche fatalities within the last 70years in Austria. While from 1946/47 to 1980/81 accidents due to catastrophic avalanches prevailed, the following period (1981/82 to 2015/16) was characterised by a predominance of backcountry avalanche accidents and a decrease of catastrophic avalanches. That declining trend is the result of comprehensive mitigation measures in Austria, which were implemented as a consequence of the major avalanche events in the 1950s. In particular, the number of disastrous avalanche events (events with five or more fatalities) decreased significantly. Although a few disastrous events also occurred in the backcountry, the vast majority of avalanche accidents caused only one or two fatalities. However, the number of avalanche fatalities did not change significantly, while the number of skiers and mountaineers has increased considerably in the last 20 to 30years. Compared to off-piste fatalities, avalanche deaths due to backcountry skiing were clearly predominant in the 1980s. This relation decreased over the years, or in other words, the rate of off-piste fatalities (in proportion to backcountry fatalities) increased, relatively speaking; however, a clear trend could not be found.


Language: en

Keywords

Avalanche accident statistics; Avalanche fatalities; Avalanche history

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