Mapping the avalanche risk: from survey to cartographic production. The avalanche bulletin of the Meteomont Service of the Alpine Troops Command
Keywords: Meteomont, avalanche bulletins, hazard maps, avalanche risk communication, meteorological data retrieval
Abstract. During the last decades, the process of explaining life-threatening natural hazards to the public has become a major public issue from the point of view of effective prevention policies. The avalanche risk and the communication methods aimed at its forecasting and prevention constitute the focus of this paper. Among the strategies for an effective communication of environmental risks, cartography plays a pivotal role. It has proved to be essential not only for communication purposes, but also for the planning of prompt and efficient preventive interventions; in so doing, it contributes to the reduction of avalanche-caused damages and deaths. The paper investigates prevention and forecasting activities of the Meteomont Service of the Alpine Troops Command (COMTA) of Bolzano (capital city of the province of South Tyrol - North Italy), resulting in the daily publication of avalanche bulletins (Bollettini valanghe), which also include hazard maps. Specifically, the phases that contribute to the production of the avalanche bulletin and the embedded avalanche risk maps will be firstly examined; secondly, such maps will be analysed in order to assess their communicative potential for the purpose of a correct interpretation aimed at the effective prevention of snow-related risks in mountain areas. Possible improvement will be proposed on the basis of the experience of several avalanche warning services worldwide.