SPOT6 Avalanche outlines 24 January 2018

Outlines of 18'737 avalanches mapped from SPOT6 satellite data over the Swiss Alps on 24 January 2018. The outlines have different attributes described in the data example key (ExampleKey_AvalMapping.pdf)

The generation of the data is described in:

Bühler, Y., Hafner, E. D., Zweifel, B., Zesiger, M., and Heisig, H.: Where are the avalanches? Rapid mapping of a large snow avalanche period with optical satellites, The Cryosphere Discuss.,, in review, 2019.

Abstract. Accurate and timely information on avalanche occurrence are key for avalanche warning, crisis management and avalanche documentation. Today such information is mainly available at isolated locations provided by observers in the field. The achieved reliability considering accuracy, completeness and reliability of the reported avalanche events is limited. In this study we present the spatial continuous mapping of a large avalanche period in January 2018 covering the majority of the Swiss Alps (12’500 km2).

We tested different satellite sensors available for rapid mapping during a first avalanche period. Based on these experiences, we tasked SPOT6/7 data for data acquisition to cover the second, much larger avalanche period. We manually mapped the outlines of 18’737 individual avalanche events, applying image enhancement techniques to analyze regions in cast shadow as well as brightly illuminated ones. The resulting dataset of mapped avalanche outlines, having a unique completeness and reliability, is evaluated to produce maps of avalanche occurrence and avalanche size. We validated the mapping of the avalanche outlines using photographs acquired from helicopters just after the avalanche period.

This study demonstrates the applicability of optical, very high spatial resolution satellite data to map an exceptional avalanche period with very high completeness, accuracy and reliability over a large region. The generated avalanche data is of great value to validate avalanche bulletins, complete existing avalanche databases and for research applications by enabling meaningful statistics on important avalanche parameters.

Koordinate System: CH1903+ LV95 LN02


Elisabeth Hafner; Yves Bühler (2019). SPOT6 Avalanche outlines 24 January 2018. EnviDat. doi:10.16904/envidat.77.

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Data and Resources


Field Values
DOI 10.16904/envidat.77
  • Name: Elisabeth Hafner  Email: elisabeth.hafnerfoo(at)  Affiliation: SLF  DataCRediT: Collection, Validation, Publication
  • Name: Yves Bühler  Email: buehlerfoo(at)  ORCID: 0000-0002-0815-2717  Affiliation: SLF  DataCRediT: Validation, Curation, Publication, Supervision
Contact Person Name: Yves Bühler  Email: buehlerfoo(at)  Affiliation: SLF  ORCID: 0000-0002-0815-2717
Publication Publisher: EnviDat  Year: 2019
  • Type: Created  Date: 2018-02-28  End Date: 2018-06-30
Version 1.0
Type Dataset
General Type Dataset
Language English
Location Switzerland
Content License ODbL with Database Contents License (DbCL)    [Open Data]
Last Updated July 2, 2019, 08:17 (CEST)
Created June 26, 2019, 11:18 (CEST)