glacier smallA new technical document from GAPHAZ aims to provide clear guidance on the assessment of hazards related to glaciers and permafrost – thereby protecting the lives and livelihoods of people living in mountain regions across the globe.  

As mountain landscapes rapidly warm and change, the threats to those living on and around them also evolve. Contemporary transformations in mountain glaciers and permafrost can lead to catastrophic mass flows, such as ice and rock avalanches, para- or periglacial debris flows, and floods from glacial lakes. Land subsidence and instability also pose a significant danger. This, combined with the ongoing expansion of people and infrastructure into high mountain valleys, means there is increasing potential for societal losses and far-reaching disasters.

“Unique and valuable”
In light of this, the Standing Group on Glacier and Permafrost Hazards (GAPHAZ) has taken steps to ensure a structured and comprehensive approach to hazard assessment, underpinned by the latest scientific understanding. Its new technical guidelines compile current knowledge and best practice related to glacier and permafrost hazards, providing an important resource for assessment and prevention to international and national agencies, responsible authorities, and private companies.

“In the mountains of the world much loss, damage, and suffering could be avoided if hazards were properly assessed and mapped as a basis for hazard and risk reduction,” says Christian Huggel, MRI Science Leadership Council member and a lead author of the guidelines. “Several countries have established standardized procedures in recent years, but many have not - especially in the developing world. In collaboration with international experts from GAPHAZ, and supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, we have now been able to produce guidelines that are expected to fill this important gap and support local agencies in their work. What makes these guidelines unique and valuable is the fact that they are the result of broad consensus among international experts.”

The technical guidance document, Assessment of Glacier and Permafrost Hazards in Mountain Regions, is available here.



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