Climate change and natural hazards in the Grisons

On account of the current global warming, climate researchers warn of a possible increase in the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather conditions in the future. As an alpine canton, the Grisons are particularly exposed to such events. In the article, the effects of climatic change on large avalanches, floods, mud avalanches, landslides and rock falls are discussed, together with the thawing of permafrost and the melting of glaciers. In the case of large avalanches, thanks to present scientific knowledge and existing protective structures, a greater danger is not necessarily to be feared. However, where floods and mud avalanches are concerned, the situation is somewhat different: there is a greater likelihood of an increased frequency of more severe events in the future. In addition, the potentially endangered zones are larger and more difficult to protect. For such events, therefore, the potential for prevention and damage reduction is significantly higher. The future risk of rock falls and landslides is more difficult to predict. These are highly dependent on the local geology and the necessary understanding of the processes involved is still far from complete. Permafrost degradation and the disappearance of many small glaciers will create new sources of danger and hence increase yet again the risk of floods, mud avalanches and rock falls. The responsible authorities in Canton Grisons are aware of these hazards and lay emphasis on the documentation of events, the establishment of systems of measurement and of information, on warning systems and the application of damage reducing measures on site.

Published in:
Schweizerische Zeitschrift fuer Forstwesen, 160, 201-209

 Record created 2011-11-23, last modified 2018-03-17

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