• Document: Snow, glaciers and permafrost: changes in the Alpine environment and consequences for high-altitude tourism infrastructure
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Snow, glaciers and permafrost: changes in the Alpine environment and consequences for high-altitude tourism infrastructure Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland Dr. Marcia Phillips Effects of climate change on the cryosphere in the Alps • Modification of the temporal and spatial distribution of the winter snow cover (shortening of the ski season, modification of water resources, …) • Glacier retreat and shrinkage (modification of water resources and runoff regime, access problems, changing landscape, natural hazards …) • Melting of mountain permafrost (slope movements, instability of infrastructure, …) Gemsstock, 2961 m (Andermatt, central Swiss Alps) Andermatt Gemsstock with Gurschenfirn Andermatt Gemsstock Reduction of the number of days with 50 cm snow Data: C. Marty, SLF Less snow before Christmas - since the 1980‘s… Data: C. Marty, SLF Solution: technical snow Cost of technical snow on Gemsstock: € 300‘000.- / year (incl. amortization) Source of information: P. Heinzer, Director, Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen Development of a new snow lance: ‚Nessy‘ (New Energy Efficient Snowlance System) • 80% lower energy consumption • Snow production at up to 2°C warmer • Less noise Project Partners: Bächler Top Track AG (BTT), Auw Mikroverschleisstechnik AG (MVT), Nidau Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF FHA, Labor für Thermo- und Fluid-Engin. (LTFE) Triftgletscher Archive VAW ETH Zurich Photo: M. Funk Glacier retreat Sankt Anna 0.75 km 0.46 km2 2580 - 2920 Data: VAW/ETHZ Reduction of glacier volume Gries 5.26 km2 2410 - 3370 Data: VAW/ETHZ Melt of glacier below Gemsstock cable car station (20 m in 20 years) Problem: access to glacier for winter sports Foto C. Danioth, Gemsstock Construction of access ramp Photos: Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen Preservation of snow on access ramp with insulating fleece cover in summer 20 m Photos: Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen Summer 2005 16.5.05 30.8.05 26.9.05 Photos: VAW/ETHZ Facts & figures: insulating fleece cover • Size of fleece cover: 4000 m2 • Initial cost (2005): € 20‘000.- • Following years: € 15‘000.- (installation, maintenance, removal) • Reduction of diesel consumption: 3000 litres (construction of snow ramp at beginning of winter) • Worldwide media coverage (~ 800 reports) • NB: construction permit necessary! Source of information: P. Heinzer, Director, Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen Possible alternatives and problems • Construction of steel ramp down to glacier ⇒ high cost, glacier retreating • Elevator between station and glacier ⇒ high cost, no power available, permafrost problems • Artificial snow on ramp ⇒ no water or power available • Displace cable car station ⇒ very high cost, glacier retreating, further permafrost problems possible ‚Bécassine Alpiniste‘, 1923 Pinchon & Cauméry (réedition Hachette/Gautier-Languereau 1992) Permafrost warming: potential problems for mountain infrastructures • Ice-rich soils / ice in bedrock • Ground temperatures < 0°C • Creep / heave / subsidence • Reduced bearing capacity due to warming • Natural hazards, e.g. rockfall & debris flows High construction and maintenance costs. High damage potential and risks. High-altitude infrastructure Cab. Camoscia, Cristallino. Foto G. Kappenberger Restaurant Pardorama, Ischgl. Foto M. Walser Type of infrastructure determines: • Safety requirements • Serviceability requirements • Risks and damage potential Telecommunication station, Jungfrau Subsidence due to melting of permafrost ice Rock fall from ice-rich rock face Gemsstock 2004. Foto C. Danioth Examples of permafrost-induced problems in the Alps Formation of cracks Mountain restaurant (demolished a

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