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Frequency and Characteristics of Glacier Floods in the Swiss Alps

  • Wilfried Haeberli (a1)
Abstract

Damage due to glacier floods in the Swiss Alps occurs about once every two years at present, despite the pronounced retreat of glaciers during the twentieth century and the installation of many water reservoirs, which act as flood retention basins. Over half (60 to 70%) of the observed floods are caused by outbursts of marginal glacier lakes or sudden breaks of ice dams, and 30 to 40% by ruptures of water pockets. In a glacierized mountain region as densely populated as the Swiss Alps, even debris flows triggered by outbursts of very small water masses may be dangerous. Historical information about glacier floods in the Swiss Alps, although incomplete and heterogeneous, is used as an empirical basis for an attempt to recognize potential hazards at an early stage by considering outburst processes, volumes of water involved, potential peak-discharge values, lithology and inclination within the reach of glacier streams.

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References
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Annals of Glaciology
  • ISSN: 0260-3055
  • EISSN: 1727-5644
  • URL: /core/journals/annals-of-glaciology
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