Studienreise 2007 - Norwegen
Study trip 2007 to Norway

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Heft 157, Dezember 2007, 71. Jahrgang

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Hopf Josef

 

A friend's foreword

When two future friends, Karsten Lied from Norway and Josef Hopf from Austria, met for the first time at the IGS-Symposium 1979 in Colorado/ USA they did not know that this was to be the beginning of an outstanding bilateral contact in the field of avalanches and other natural hazards. Shortly afterwards representatives of the Norwegian Geotechnical Institut (NGI) and the Austrian Torrent and Avalanche Control Service (WLV) started contacts with mutual visits to both countries to exchange and improve knowledge and experience. The application of the Norwegian Topographic Model for avalanche runout distances was tested in a joint project in 1995. At that time the contact was extended from both sides to Iceland after two catastrophic avalanche events in that country. This allowed Nordic and alpine snow and avalanche conditions to be compared on a broad basis. In the last decade, Austrians assisted in cooperation with local companies in the implementation of supporting structures in the starting zones of avalanches in northern Norway as part of projects by NGI, for example in Honnigsvag, Hammerfest, Öksfjord and Tromsö. Snow bridges made in Austria were used in these projects, sometimes galvanized and as such well adapted to the Nordic environment. Joint activities were even extended to Svalbard (Spitzbergen), where an avalanche course was held for local people and students. At research level, contacts were developed in the last decade between NGI and the Department for Natural Hazards in Innsbruck, especially concerning the full scale experiment site Ryggfonn in Western Norway. The Norwegian National Hazard Commission – responsible for public financing of mitigation measures – visited Western Austria in September 2004, and was followed one year later by the Avalanche and Engineering Geology Division of NGI. This field trip (including a short workshop) had an unexpected character due to heavy floods in late summer 2005 in western Austria, the consequences of which became evident shortly afterwards in the Paznaun Valley in the Tyrol. Undoubtedly this year’s return visit by the Austrian delegation to Norway can be considered a highlight in the relationship between NGI and WLV, both dealing in the same scope of work: NGI as a private foundation in a Scandinavian country, partly supported by the government, with a need to raise money at national level and worldwide. WLV as a governmental institution in an alpine country, using public funds for all activities (expert opinions, advice and mitigation measures) at national level. Considering the pros and cons of these two systems and probably as a result of long mutual contacts, ideas for future development may be suggested by a colleague closely connected to both institutions: Public awareness of natural hazards and financing of mitigation measures could be extended in Norway. In the long term, WLV should open up and extend its activities, based on experience over more than one century to international consulting and engineering, determined by the principle of “watershed management”. On the basis of these ideas, the contact between NGI und WLV could lead to a new level of cooperation for the benefit of both institutions in an increasingly globalised world with serious climate change. Good luck! Josef Hopf Former Employee of WLV Honorary Member of the Avalanche Division of NGI

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Hopf Josef