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CoSiCa – Avalanches in an endless loop
Simulation software is often used in avalanche research as a tool for the mapping of hazard zones and the planning of measures. In order to create an avalanche simulation, initial and boundary conditions (e.g. avalanche starting zones and snow distribution) as well as process parameters need to be defined. An exact measurement of decisive parameters - for example material properties - which describe the frictional behaviour of snow, is so far only possible in a limited capacity. Therefore, these parameters need to be determined using suitable procedures.

Optimizing Avalanche Simulation

This is based upon retrospective calculations of observed extreme avalanches and contain the solution to an inverse problem as well as an adequate optimisation procedure. In the project SamosAT CoSiCa, a standardised and objective evaluation and optimisation procedure was developed for avalanche simulation in three dimensional terrain, in order to optimise results from avalanche simulations in regard to observations in nature and their practical application. Among other things run-out parameters, impact pressures, avalanche velocity, as well as the increase of mass of an avalanche travelling down a valley were examined. Over 10,000 simulations were carried out per avalanche path under variation of input parameters and subsequently examined with the analysis software AIMEC (Fischer et al., 2012; Fischer, 2013; Fischer et al., 2014). Values for each simulation run can be generated by means of field observations, thereby calculating the best parameter combinations (illustration). The large number of simulation runs makes it possible to make statistically based statements, which may serve as a basis for application in avalanche simulation.

In cooperation with: BMLFUW, WLV - Department of Snow and Avalanches

This image of Wolfsgrube shows an avalanche simulation with optimized parameters.
The improved conformity with the recorded incident is clearly visible.


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