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Climate warming enhances snow avalanche risk in the Western Himalayas

Authors
Madrigal-González, J.
Eckert, N.
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2018, vol. 115, no. 13, p. 3410-3415
Abstract Ongoing climate warming has been demonstrated to impact thecryosphere in the Indian Himalayas, with substantial consequencesfor the risk of disasters, human well-being, and terrestrial ecosystems.Here, we present evidence thatthe warming observed in recentdecades has been accompanied by increased snow avalanche frequencyin the Western Indian Himalayas. Using dendrogeomorphic techniques,we reconstruct the longest time series (150 y) of the occurrence andrunout distances of snow avalanches that is currently available for theHimalayas. We apply a generalizedlinear autoregressive movingaverage model to demonstrate linkages between climate warmingand the observed increase in the incidence of snow avalanches.Warming air temperatures in winter and early spring have indeedfavored the wetting of snow and the formation of wet snowavalanches, which are now able to reach down to subalpine slopes,where they have high potential to cause damage. These findingscontradict the intuitive notion that warming results in less snow, andthus lower avalanche activity, and have major implications for theWestern Himalayan region, an area where human pressure is constantlyincreasing. Specifically, increasing traffic on a steadily expanding roadnetwork is calling for an immediate design of risk mitigation strategiesand disaster risk policies to enhance climate change adaption in thewider study region.
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BALLESTEROS CANOVAS, Juan Antonio et al. Climate warming enhances snow avalanche risk in the Western Himalayas. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2018, vol. 115, n° 13, p. 3410-3415. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1716913115 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:122212

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Deposited on : 2019-08-28

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