Seemingly barren, yet sensitive and full of life, alpine regions around the globe are particularly vulnerable to environmental changes. Above all, the consequences of intensive land use and global climate change, pose numerous challenges. Risks and opportunities arising from this development provide the foundation of GEO, our research area dedicated to alpine natural hazards, risk management, glaciers, and permafrost.

NEW PROJECT Tren a las Nubes

Tren a las Nubes

Since March 2017 we are working, funded by Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbHand together with national and Argentinian partners, on our newest venture: Tren a las Nubes: Development potentials of an extreme mountain railway. The aim of the project is to define the chances and risks of the further development of the rail-bound freight transport along this railway connection between Argentina and Chile by using an interdisciplinary research approach. Natural hazards in this mountainous region may cause relevant costs in respect to maintenance and operation. GEORESEARCH is developing an innovative method based on cutting-edge satellite and drone technologies to detect natural hazard “hot spots”.

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PROJECT GlacierRocks

Cirque walls exposed by recent glacier retreat exhibit significantly increased rockfall activities. Despite their relevance as a growing risk factor, little is known about the thermal, mechanical and hydrological processes that operate at the glacier-headwall interface (randkluft). GlacierRocks will establish the worldwide first research site for long-term monitoring of stability-relevant processes inside a randkluft system, encompassing measurements of rock temperature, rock moisture and acoustic emissions. 

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PROJECT FutureLakes

Glacier retreat is one of the most visible consequences of recent climate warming. Glacier retreat can result in the formation of glacial lakes, as already observed at various glaciers in the European Alps and other mountain areas in the world. FutureLakes analyzes the formation and the development of future glacial lakes in Austria and thus, supports essential adaptation strategies to high-alpine landscape change driven by glacier retreat.

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SeisRockHT detects and analyzes seismic signals caused by high-alpine rockfall. For this purpose, seismic monitoring networks, designed for continuous, all year operation, are installed at the Sonnblick and at the Open Air Lab Kitzsteinhorn. At both sites, seismic monitoring is integrated into long-term monitoring infrastructure that delivers valuable complementary data.

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Glacierized cirques are defining high-alpine landscape elements which react sensitively to climatic changes. Within the ‘Arge Alp’-funded project CirqueMonHT we at GEORESEARCH, together with our partners, are establishing a monitoring system in the Ödenwinkelkar (Stubachtal Salzburg) aiming at the long-term observation of changes relevant to rock stability.

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Changing water contents of ground moraines and till significantly affect their mechanical properties and stability. Data on pore water changes are therefore of particular importance to tunneling projects and engineering geology. The main goal of MoistureMonERT is the development of a 2D ERT monitoring (Electrical Resistivity Tomography) for pore water that goes beyond 1D spot measurements.