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DOI 10.4461/GFDQ.2017.40.4


Snow-avalanche and climatic conditions in the Ligurian ski resorts (NW-Italy)

Pages 41-52


Liguria Region is characterized by a 240 km-long coastal arc, and a largely mountainous territory. Consequently, its characteristic and famous Mediterranean-type climate is far from being uniform. Climatic diversity of Liguria reflects some fundamental morphological factors, such as southern exposures and the presence of a major mountain ridge with suitable climatic conditions for winter sports. Nevertheless, the permanence and stability of snow on the ground is related to local factors, such as the prevalent southern aspect, slope steepness, air temperature and wind intensity. The highest Ligurian peak is the Saccarello Mount (2200 m) at the borders with Piemonte and the French Department of the Alpes Maritimes, while the highest mountain in the Ligurian Apennines is the Maggiorasca Mount (1804 m). Near these areas there are two “historical” ski resorts established in the mid-60s: Santo Stefano d’Aveto, bordering the ski areas of Emilia-Romagna, and Monesi di Triora to the West, in the province of Imperia; both resorts have been subject to significant investment in the development of tourist activities and accommodation. The unique climatic conditions of Liguria and the established trends in climate require careful assessment of avalanche hazard, considering the increased flow of tourists and the poor perception of the associated risk in a region traditionally linked to “marine” leisure activities. During 2011, an avalanche in Santo Stefano d’Aveto caused the loss of a human life. The paper presents a preliminary contribution aimed at assessing avalanche susceptibility in the two ski areas of Liguria: starting from the analysis of historical avalanches, several parameters have been analyzed, such as hazardous nature of the terrain, the weather and snow conditions and the interaction with human activities and infrastructures.

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