Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/nhess-2016-369
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
17 Nov 2016
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Spatial and temporal analysis of fatal off-piste and backcountry avalanche accidents in Austria with a comparison of results in Switzerland, France, Italy and the United States
Christian Pfeifer1, Peter Höller2, and Achim Zeileis3 1Institute of Basic Sciences in Engineering Science Unit for Engineering Mathematics, University of Innsbruck
2Austrian Research Centre for Forests Institute for Natural Hazards, Innsbruck
3Department of Statistics, University of Innsbruck
Abstract. In this article we analyzed spatial and temporal patterns of fatal Austrian avalanche accidents caused by backcountry and off-piste skiers and snowboarders within the winter periods 1967/68–2010/11. The data were based on reports of the Austrian Board for Alpine Safety and reports of the information services of the federal states.

Using the date and the location of the recorded avalanche accidents we were able to carry out spatial and temporal analyses applying generalized additive models and Markov random field models.

As the result of the trend analysis we noticed an increasing trend of avalanche fatalities within the winter periods from 1967/68 to 2010/11, which is in contradiction to the widespread opinion that the number of fatalities is constant over time. Additionally, we compared Austrian results with results of Switzerland, France, Italy and the United States based on data from the International Commission of Alpine Rescue (ICAR). As the result of the spatial analysis we noticed two hotspots of avalanche fatalities ("Arlberg-Silvretta" and "Sölden").

Because of the increasing trend and the rather "narrow" regional distribution of the fatalities consequences on prevention of avalanche accidents were highly recommended.


Citation: Pfeifer, C., Höller, P., and Zeileis, A.: Spatial and temporal analysis of fatal off-piste and backcountry avalanche accidents in Austria with a comparison of results in Switzerland, France, Italy and the United States, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/nhess-2016-369, in review, 2016.
Christian Pfeifer et al.
Christian Pfeifer et al.
Christian Pfeifer et al.

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