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Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1173-1186, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-1173-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
18 Apr 2018
Assessing the interaction between mountain forests and snow avalanches at Nevados de Chillán, Chile and its implications for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction
Alejandro Casteller1,2, Thomas Häfelfinger1, Erika Cortés Donoso3, Karen Podvin3, Dominik Kulakowski4, and Peter Bebi1 1WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos Dorf, Switzerland
2Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales IANIGLA, CCT-CONICET-Mendoza, Mendoza, Argentina
3IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature – Regional Office for South America, Quito, Ecuador
4Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, Massachusetts, USA
Abstract. Gravitational natural hazards such as snow avalanches, rockfalls, shallow landslides and volcanic activity represent a risk to mountain communities around the world. In particular, where documentary records about these processes are rare, decisions on risk management and land-use planning have to be based on a variety of other sources including vegetation, tree-ring data and natural hazard process models. We used a combination of these methods in order to evaluate dynamics of natural hazards with a focus on snow avalanches at Valle Las Trancas, in the Biobío region in Chile. Along this valley, natural hazards threaten not only the local human population, but also the numerous tourists attracted by outdoor recreational activities. Given the regional scarcity of documentary records, tree-ring methods were applied in order to reconstruct the local history of snow avalanches and debris flow events, which are the most important weather-related processes at respective tracks. A recent version of the model Rapid Mass MovementS (RAMMS), which includes influences of forest structure, was used to calculate different avalanche parameters such as runout distances and maximum pressures, taking into consideration the presence or absence of forest along the tracks as well as different modeled return periods. Our results show that local Nothofagus broadleaf forests contribute to a reduction of avalanche runout distances as well as impact pressure on present infrastructure, thus constituting a valuable ecosystem disaster risk reduction measure that can substitute or complement other traditional measures such as snow sheds.
Citation: Casteller, A., Häfelfinger, T., Cortés Donoso, E., Podvin, K., Kulakowski, D., and Bebi, P.: Assessing the interaction between mountain forests and snow avalanches at Nevados de Chillán, Chile and its implications for ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 1173-1186, https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-1173-2018, 2018.
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Short summary
Natural hazards such as snow avalanches, debris flows and volcanic activity represent a risk to mountain communities. This is particularly the case where documentary records about these processes are rare. As a result, decisions on risk management and land-use planning are based on other sources such tree-ring data and process models. Our study was conducted at Valle Las Trancas in Chile, where we evaluated the dynamics of avalanches and other natural hazards which threaten its population.
Natural hazards such as snow avalanches, debris flows and volcanic activity represent a risk to...
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