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Glacier and Permafrost Hazards in Mountains (GAPHAZ)

A Scientific Standing Group of the International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) and the International Permafrost Association (IPA)

About GAPHAZ


GAPHAZ is a Standing Group of the

International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) within the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), and the

International Permafrost Association (IPA) within the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).


Chairs

Chairs:

  • John Clague, Fraser University, Canada
  • Christian Huggel, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Secretary:

  • Michael Krautblatter, Technical University Munich

Advisors:

  • Chris Burn, Charlton University Ottawa, Canada
  • Ken Hewitt, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Andreas Kääb, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Jeff Kargel, University of Arizona, USA
  • John Reynolds, Reynolds Geosciences Ltd, Mold, UK
  • Sergey Sokratov, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia

 


Issues

Glacier- and permafrost-related hazards represent a continuous and growing threat to human lives and infrastructure in high mountain regions. Related disasters can kill hundreds or even thousands of people at once and cause damage with a global sum on the order of 100 million EURO annually.

Present atmospheric warming especially affects terrestrial systems with surface and subsurface ice involved. Changes in glacier and permafrost equilibrium are shifting hazard zones beyond historical knowledge. Furthermore, human settlements and activities extend towards endangered zones. As a consequence, empirical knowledge will have to be increasingly replaced by improved process understanding.

The recently accelerated retreat of glaciers in nearly all mountain ranges of the world has led to the development of numerous potentially dangerous glacier lakes. In spring 2002, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), therefore, launched a high-level warning in view of the dramatic growth of gigantic glacier lakes in the Himalayas.

Despite of the significant impacts of glacier and permafrost hazards and disasters, and despite of the increasingly urgent need to improve understanding and prevention of glacier and permafrost hazards in high mountains, there is no collaborative scientific initiative under the auspices of an international scientific lead body focussing on such hazards.


Goals

The IACS/IPA Standing Group on Glacier and Permafrost Hazards in High Mountains aims at:

  • Improving the international scientific communication on glacier and permafrost hazards
  • Compiling of a state of knowledge related to glacier and permafrost hazards in high mountains
  • Working towards a greater transfer of information and improved communication between the scientific and governmental communities
  • Signposting sources of advice to international and national agencies, responsible authorities and private companies
  • Acting as a focal point for information for international media during relevant crises

The Standing Group will address the following themes:

  • Processes involved in the formation of glacier and permafrost hazards
  • Techniques and strategies for mapping, monitoring, modelling
  • Methods of hazard, vulnerability and risk assessment
  • Methods of hazard mitigation including styles and effectiveness of remedial works
  • Raising awareness of protocols for glacial hazard assessment and remediation

The Standing Group will among others cover the following glacier and permafrost hazards:

  • Outbursts of glacier lakes, causing floods and debris flows
  • Avalanche/landslide-induced displacement wave impacts on glacial lake dams
  • Ice break-offs and subsequent ice avalanches from steep glaciers
  • Stable and unstable (surge-type) glacier length variations
  • Destabilisation of frozen or unfrozen debris slopes
  • Destabilisation of rock walls, as related to periglacial and glacial activity
  • Adverse effects of rock glaciers and other periglacial slope movements
  • Thaw settlement and frost heave
  • Earthquake triggering of glacier and permafrost hazards
  • Processes and hazards associated to interactions between volcanic activity and glaciers, and
  • Combinations or chain reactions of these processes

Activities

The following Standing Group activities are planned:

  • Set-up of a Standing Group homepage
  • Compilation and maintenance of a link list related to glacier and permafrost hazards
  • Maintenance of a list of scientists and organisations active in the field of glacier and permafrost hazards in high mountains
  • Compilation of a bibliography on glacier and permafrost hazards in high mountains
  • Workshops on glacier and permafrost hazards
  • Special sessions within international scientific conferences (e.g., AGU, EGU)
  • Field trips
  • Publications (workshop proceedings, special journal issue or a joint review article)
  • Lobbying governmental departments, development banks and donor agencies to raise the awareness of key related issues

Collaboration

Close ties are envisioned with other organisations, programmes and projects, e.g.,

  • International Glaciological Society (IGS)
  • World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS)
  • Global Land Ice Measurements from Space project (GLIMS)
  • Permafrost and Climate in Europe (PACE21)
Published Oct 28, 2013 03:52 PM - Last modified Jun 30, 2014 11:25 AM