Indicators for Snow gliding: a Case Study at the Wildkogel, Salzburg
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At: ISSW 2018 - International Snow Science Workshop ; Innsbruck : 7.10.2018 - 12.10.2018 ; The release of glide avalanches is very difficult to predict and a great challenge for local forecasters, especially in ski areas. There are reasonable assumptions that the relative proportion of wet snow avalanches (and thus glide avalanches) will increase due to climate change. However, a couple of gaps in knowledge regarding the process of gliding snow still exist, such as the influence of soil conditions or the predictability of glide avalanches; even the relevant physical processes of snow gliding are not yet completely understood. The trigger for glide avalanches is basically a high liquid water content (LWC) at the snow-ground interface, i.e. the transition zone between snow cover and vegetation/ soil. While empirical models for the potential of snow gliding already exist, dynamic (real-time) assessment has to incorporate additional processes affecting the soil-vegetation-snow-atmosphere system. At the study site ‘Wildkogel’, Salzburg, Austria, experts and decision makers from five different institutions (others may follow) are addressing this issue. We aim to develop key indicators to identify snow gliding areas for specific prevailing meteorological-, soil hydrological-, biological- (i.e. vegetation) and snowpack conditions. At the ‘Wildkogel’, snow gliding is observed regularly, also endangering several parts of the ski area. Since 2014, snow gliding measurements and ancillary measurements of soil water content (SWC) and soil temperature (SoilT) as well as vegetation surveys (biomass, plant functional diversity) are carried out. Additionally, two measuring stations from the Avalanche Warning Service Salzburg are located close to the snow gliding measurement sites, providing a broad range of meteorological - and snow parameters. The assessment of snowpack characteristics by snow profiles for periods with expected snow gliding activity provides crucial information about the detailed properties of the snowpack.