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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 12, issue 11 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 3209-3216, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 01 Nov 2012

Research article | 01 Nov 2012

Is climate change causing increased rockfall frequency in Austria?

O. Sass1 and M. Oberlechner2 O. Sass and M. Oberlechner
  • 1Institute for Geography, Innrain 52, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Institute for Geography and Spatial Research, Heinrichstr. 36, 8010 Graz, Austria

Abstract. Potentially, increasing rockfall hazards triggered by climate change are a major concern expressed both in scientific and non-scientific media. An existing rockfall inventory for Austria including 252 events from ca. 1900 to 2010, mainly from non-permafrost areas, was analysed. The correlation of events with temperatures is very weak and no increase of rockfall frequency during warmer periods was observed. The peak of rockfall activity is in spring, whereas in recent decades a secondary summer maximum appeared in the records. A possible reason for this shift is reduced rockfall activity in spring due to warmer winters. We conclude that a premature warning of increasing rockfall hazard, especially below the permafrost limit, is not supported by the existing data.

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