Department of Natural Hazards
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The Department of Natural Hazards and Alpine Timberline is a research institution dedicated to the development of practice-oriented methods for the sustainable protection of human settlements and infrastructure.

Fundamental research and continuous monitoring of relevant parameters are an essential element of the activities. Moreover, the department follows a landscape-related and an integrated approach to natural hazard processes in mountainous regions. Since the establishment of the department, special emphasis has been addressed on an integrated and holistic approach on catchment basins.

Research into natural hazards such as avalanches, floods, erosion and landslides is increasingly gaining in importance in the light of climate change and societal developments. In an atmosphere of conflicting interests of historical, recent and future utilisation including ever changing natural hazard potential, scientific guidelines and instruments for the planning and optimisation of measures including conflict solution are elaborated.

In addition to traditional working fields of natural hazard research (snow physics, snow mechanics, avalanche dynamics, hydrology, process analysis of run-off, erosion and massmovement) the monitoring and evaluation of risk and safety levels as well as the evaluation of measures to be taken in the field of risk management and risk mitigation become more and more important. The number of objects and infrastructures in the surroundings of natural hazards has continuously increased. At the same time societal expectations on the forest in terms of protection against natural hazards are also increasing and protection forest issues and forest development at high altitudes will gain in importance.

Priority Working Fields

Traditional working priorities of the department are:
  • Long-term monitoring of natural hazard processes and important parameters in alpine catchment areas
  • Maintenance of time series over many years, databases
  • Development of measurement methods and instruments
  • Process analysis of avalanches and analysis of snow cover properties
  • Analysis of run-off formation
  • Analysis of run-off, transport and erosion processes in torrents
  • Analysis of landslides
  • Development and optimisation of model approaches for natural hazard assessment

  • Studies on the interactions between forests and natural hazards
  • Elaboration of ecophysiological guidelines for the assessment and securing of the protection effect of the forest, with special emphasis on alpine timberline

  • Development and optimisation of planning, technology and temporary protection measures
  • Risk management
  • Preparation of manuals

Main Tasks and Activities

  • Monitoring of torrents, avalanches and environment monitoring at the alpine timberline
  • Development of measuring devices
  • Torrent and avalanche accident and damage databases
  • dokumentation and databases of landslide events
  • Process research (avalanches, snow cover properties, run-off formation, erosion, landslides)
  • Development and optimisation of model approaches for natural hazard assessment
  • Expertises to hazardassesment and risk-analysis for avalances, torrents and landslides
  • Developement and optimizing of preventive measures


Head of Department: DI Dr. Karl Kleemayr
Tel. +43-0512-573933 5101, email: karl.kleemayr*

Secretary Simone Willburger
Tel. +43-0512-573933-5100, Fax: +43-0512-573933-5250
email: simone.willburger*

Location Innsbruck: Rennweg 1, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Location Vienna: Hauptstraße 7, 1140 Wien

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Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards and Landscape
Austria, 1131 Vienna, Seckendorff-Gudent-Weg 8 | Tel.: +43 1 878 38-0,
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