ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints201910.0341.v1
Online: 29 October 2019 (15:37:11 CET)
Knowledge of the spatio-temporal occurrence of avalanche activity is critical for avalanche forecasting and hazard mapping. We present a near-real time automatic avalanche monitoring system that outputs detected avalanche polygons within roughly 10 min after Sentinel- 1 SAR data download. Our avalanche detection algorithm has an average probability of detection of 67.2 % with a false alarm rate averaging 45.9, with maximum POD's over 85 % and minimum FAR's of 24.9 % compared to manual detection of avalanches. The high variability in performance stems from the dynamic nature of snow in the Sentinel-1 data. After tuning parameters of the detection algorithm, we processed five years of Sentinel-1 images acquired over a 150 x 100 km large area in Northern Norway, with the best setup. Compared to a dataset of field-observed avalanches, 77.3 % were manually detectable. Using these manual detections as benchmark, the avalanche detection algorithm achieved an accuracy of 79 % with high POD's in cases of medium to large wet snow avalanches. For the first time, we can present a dataset of spatiotemporal avalanche activity over several winters from a large region. This unique dataset allows for research into the relationship between avalanche activity and triggering meteorological factors, mapping of avalanche prone areas and near-real time avalanche activity monitoring to assist public avalanche forecasting. Currently, the Norwegian Avalanche Warning Service is using our processing system for pre-operational use in three regions in Norway.