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Why scientists in Norway are deliberately triggering avalanches

Saturday, May 1st 2021, 7:02 pm - The researchers hope to learn more about how avalanches start and progress, leading to safer infrastructure and buildings.

Normally if you're in the mountains, the last thing you want is an avalanche, unless you're trying to pre-emptively trigger one to make the area safer for hikers and skiers.

But scientists in Norway are actively seeking to trigger such snowslides, not for safety reasons, but for science.

The avalanche above, shot in the Stryn region of Norway, was one such experiment. Set off by explosives, it sent some 10,000 cubic metres of snow roaring down the mountainside, at speeds as high as 180 km/h.

"We want to gain more in-depth insight in avalanche dynamics and pressure and forces that we can expect from avalanches and so in this way to validate our models and give practitioners values for dimensioning of objects in an avalanche path," Peter Gauer, Principle Engineer, Avalanches and Rockslides at the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute, told Reuters.

In practical terms, the insights gained are meant to improve planning and safety measures for buildings and other infrastructure in avalanche-prone areas.

Watch the video above for more.

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