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Volume 18, issue 2 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 571-582, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-571-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 22 Feb 2018

Research article | 22 Feb 2018

Spatial and temporal analysis of fatal off-piste and backcountry avalanche accidents in Austria with a comparison of results in Switzerland, France, Italy and the US

Christian Pfeifer1, Peter Höller2, and Achim Zeileis3 Christian Pfeifer et al.
  • 1Institute of Basic Sciences in Engineering Science Unit for Engineering Mathematics, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Austrian Research Centre for Forests Institute for Natural Hazards, Innsbruck, Austria
  • 3Department of Statistics, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

Abstract. In this article we analyzed spatial and temporal patterns of fatal Austrian avalanche accidents caused by backcountry and off-piste skiers and snowboarders within the winter periods 1967/1968–2015/2016. The data were based on reports of the Austrian Board for Alpine Safety and reports of the information services of the federal states.

Using the date and the location of the recorded avalanche accidents, we were able to carry out spatial and temporal analyses applying generalized additive models and Markov random-field models.

As a result of the trend analysis we noticed an increasing trend of backcountry and off-piste avalanche fatalities within the winter periods 1967/1968–2015/2016 (although slightly decreasing in recent years), which is in contradiction to the widespread opinion in Austria that the number of fatalities is constant over time. Additionally, we compared Austrian results with results of Switzerland, France, Italy and the US based on data from the International Commission of Alpine Rescue (ICAR). As a result of the spatial analysis, we noticed two hot spots of avalanche fatalities (Arlberg–Silvretta and Sölden).

Because of the increasing trend and the rather narrow regional distribution of the fatalities, initiatives aimed at preventing avalanche accidents were highly recommended.

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In this article we analyzed spatial and temporal patterns of fatal Austrian avalanche accidents caused by backcountry and off-piste skiers and snowboarders within the winter periods 1967/1968–2015/2016. As a result of the trend analysis, we noticed an increasing trend of backcountry and off-piste avalanche fatalities within the winter periods 1967/1968–2015/2016. As a result of the spatial analysis, we noticed two hot spots of avalanche fatalities (Arlberg–Silvretta and Sölden).
In this article we analyzed spatial and temporal patterns of fatal Austrian avalanche accidents...
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