GuidelinesTechnical Guidance Document for the Assessment of Glacier and Permafrost Hazards in Mountain Regions:
Hazards relating to glaciers and permafrost are a threat to lives and livelihoods in many mountain regions. In view of rapid global warming and related changes in the mountain cryosphere, landscapes are evolving and new threats are emerging. Coupled with ongoing expansion of people and their infrastructure into high mountain valleys there is an increasing potential for societal losses and far-reaching disasters. Recognizing the need for a structured and comprehensive approach to hazard assessment underpinned by latest scientific understanding, GAPHAZ has produced a technical guidance document as a resource for international and national agencies, responsible authorities and private companies. This work was supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
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RecommendationsThe 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:
(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.