C. Vera Valero, Y. Bühler, and P. Bartelt
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Flüelastrasse 11, 7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
Received: 17 Feb 2015 – Accepted for review: 21 Mar 2015 – Discussion started: 30 Apr 2015
Abstract. Wet snow avalanches can initiate from large fracture slabs or small point releases. Point release wet snow avalanches can reach dangerous proportions when they (1) initiate on steep and long avalanche paths and (2) entrain warm moist snow. In this paper we investigate the dynamics of point release wet snow avalanches by applying a numerical model to simulate documented case studies on high altitude slopes in the Chilean Andes (33° S). The model predicts avalanche flow temperature as well as meltwater production, given the thermal initial conditions of the release mass and snowcover entrainment. As the release mass is small, avalanche velocity and runout are primarily controlled by snowcover temperature and moisture content. We demonstrate how the interaction between terrain and entrainment processes influence the production of meltwater and therefore lubrication processes leading to longer runout. This information is useful to avalanche forecasters. An understanding of wet snow avalanche dynamics is important to study how climate change scenarios will influence land usage in mountain regions in the near future.
Vera Valero, C., Bühler, Y., and Bartelt, P.: Point release wet snow avalanches, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 3, 2883-2912, doi:10.5194/nhessd-3-2883-2015, 2015.