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Article scientifique | Snow avalanche hazard assessment and risk management in northern Quebec eastern Canada


AuteurDaniel Germain, Département de géographie, Université du Québec à Montréa (UQAM)

Naturla Hazards, volume 80, numéro 2, pages 1303-1321

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In the northern environments of Quebec (eastern Canada), snow avalanche hazards have been ignored for a long time because no major incident was recorded before the tragedies of Blanc-Sablon (Lower North Shore of the St. Lawrence River) in 1995 and Kangiqsualujjuaq (Nunavik) in 1999. To enhance risk reduction at these sites, this research on process characteristics describes prone terrain, run-out distance and triggering factors, and prompted efforts (permanent and temporary measures) made to mitigate and prevent future snow avalanche tragedy from short, steep slopes. Considering the high vulnerability of these communities related to the growing population of Nunavik and the lack of knowledge of avalanches on the Lower North Shore, acceptable risk was based on the implementation of a snow avalanche forecasting and warning program over 3 years, the first one in eastern Canada. Community participation and the involvement of the municipal and provincial authorities have enabled the efficient operation of the program and accentuate the sensitivity and resilience of the populations to avalanche hazard and risk, as evidenced by the subsequent identification of avalanche sites by the communities themselves. These case studies demonstrate the importance of adequate and safe land planning, notably in the context of climate change, and particularly for isolated northern communities.



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