GAPHAZ Recommendations

The GAPHAZ working group strongly recommends that the following general principles are among others considered when assessing hazards and risk associated with glaciers and permafrost in mountains:
Version 29.3.2007

(1) Global change

Climate change can induce disturbance in glacier and permafrost equilibrium and can shift hazard zones beyond historical limits. In many regions, human settlements and activities increasingly extend towards endangered zones increasing local vulnerability. As a result, historical data alone are not sufficient any more for hazard assessments and have to be combined with new observation and modelling approaches.

(2) Chain reactions and interactions

Glacier- and permafrost-related disasters often include a combination of processes and chain reactions. Hazard assessments therefore have to be integrative and consider such variety and interaction of processes.

(3) Monitoring
Due to the accelerated change of high-mountain environments, hazard assessments must be undertaken routinely and regularly, combined with appropriate monitoring.
(4) Integrative risk assessments
Integrative hazard assessments should be achieved by interdisciplinary cooperation of experts, and the application of modern observation and modelling techniques designed for such integrative approaches. Managing glacier and permafrost hazards requires risk assessments. For that purpose hazard assessments have to be combined with vulnerability assessments.
(5) Remote sensing
Modern space technologies enable initial estimation of hazard potentials to be performed by virtually everyone and everywhere, independent of political and geographical restrictions. This fundamental "democratisation" process related to high-mountain (and other) hazards involves a number of new opportunities, dangers and responsibilities, for the public, the authorities in charge, and the experts involved.
(6) Socio-economic context
The transfer and dissemination of expert hazard assessments to the authorities and to the public, and thus the efficiency of assessments, is to a large degree dependent on the socio-economic context and the hazard perception of the endangered population. Communication of results from glacier and permafrost hazard assessments should consider these circumstances.