Since the beginning of settlements in the alpine space, natural hazards such as torrents have been a major threat to human beings. Increasing conflicts between natural geophysical processes and increasing human demands on natural resources require improved protection strategies and protection measures. Occurrence probability and potential impacts of this risk in terms of damages to property define the degree of the risk. Natural hazards cannot be totally avoided through targeted countermeasures but certain risk management strategies and actions may be derived thereof: prevention before, reaction during and rebuilding after the disaster.
Annual public expenditure of more than 100 million euros for the protection of human beings, properties, industries, trade and infrastructures underscore the importance of this research field. Main task of the Unit of Torrent and Erosion is to elaborate the necessary scientific knowledge on natural hazard processes like floods, debris flows and landslides. The results are used as a tool for decision-making facilitating the identification of preventive measures (aerial and spatial) and optimised solutions for the design of protective structures which should then be directly applied by federal offices such as the Forest Technical Service for Torrent and Avalanche Control (WLV).
Data for process analyses are collected within monitoring systems implemented in torrent research areas. These are equipped with a large number of measuring instruments. Additional surveys outside the torrent research areas in Austria (disaster documentation) contribute to a better understanding of these processes.
Priority Areas of Work
- Torrent monitoring in selected torrent research areas
- Maintenance of a digital damage cadastre in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism