Snow Avalanches and Related Mountain Natural Hazards

Institution: DICAR (UNIPV)

Major: HYRIS

Term: 2nd Semester – Academic Year 2019-2020

Instructor: Massimiliano Barbolini (

CFU: 6


Duration: TBD

Schedule: TBD

Office hours: to be set



The Earth cryosphere is presently subject to fast changes in mass and dynamics due to the ongoing climate warming. Particularly in the mountain regions of the mid-latitudes, such as the European Alps, these changes are of special relevance, because of their influence on the water cycle and of the potential hazards related to their dynamics.

The course will focus on the recent changes occurred in the mountain cryosphere under changing climatic conditions and will investigate the main hazards caused by their current dynamics.


In the first part, the course will provide an overview on the main components of the mountain cryosphere, i.e. seasonal snow, glaciers and permafrost, and on their present state in the climate system. Then, the course will focus on the cryosphere-related hazards, especially addressing those caused by shrinking glaciers and degrading permafrost. Among these, attention will be paid on phenomena such as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), ice-rock avalanches from steep hanging glaciers, rapid geomorphic adjustment of glacial deposits, debris flows, slope instabilities, and rockfalls from frozen rock faces. A number of case histories taken from European Alps and other mountain regions worldwide will be presented and discussed.