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Avalanche Dynamics and Risk Management

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Head: Michael Bründl

Using both field and laboratory experiments our research is focused on the formation, flow dynamics and deposition of snow avalanches and other gravitational mass movements. Our observations and data assist in the development of physical models of these processes. Numerically simulating gravitational mass movements is a central part of natural hazards assessment and the planning of protection measures. The unified software environment RAMMS is developed and tested at the SLF, bringing together advanced numerical simulation tools for avalanches, debris flows, and rockfalls. The models integrate the very forefront of scientific research and are used by natural hazards engineers and in research projects across mountainous regions worldwide.

The assessment of natural hazards processes is an important task for the analysis of risk. A second focus of our work is to establish fundamental principles for risk analysis and to develop software tools to assess the effectiveness and economic efficiency of natural hazard protection measures and warning systems. We concentrate on gravitational natural hazards, in addition to the evolution of risk in relation to changing climate conditions.

Our knowledge and findings are directly transferred to practitioners in applied natural hazards management, and we share in the formation of new scientists through our research, in which we actively stimulate a healthy international knowledge exchange.