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Keywords:

  • human-triggered;
  • snow avalanches;
  • terrain factors;
  • danger levels;
  • Făgăraș massif;
  • Romanian Carpathians

Every year a large number of avalanches are triggered by anthropogenic activities. This study examines the occurrence of snow avalanches from 1940 to 2011 in the Făgăraș massif and Bâlea glacial area in the eastern region of the Southern Carpathian Mountains, Romania. We focused our attention on the relationship between anthropogenically triggered avalanches and terrain factors (including elevation, aspect and slope angle), snow depth and snow pack characteristics. We also examined the influence of issuing snow avalanche danger-level alerts to the public by the Bâlea Work Nivology Laboratory on the number of accidents since 2005. Most avalanche accidents occurred in the alpine and subalpine areas. The majority of avalanche fatalities occurred at high danger levels, while avalanche burials and injuries occurred at all danger levels (low–very high). Since the establishment of the National Administration of Meteorology and the Bâlea Work Nivology Laboratory, a marked reduction in accidents has occurred because of better education regarding avalanche hazards and the regular issuing of avalanche danger-level alerts to the public and authorities.