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       17-Jul-2014
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Challenges in Hydrology of Mountain Areas under Changing Climatic and Human Pressures
de Jong, C.
University of Savoy

Hydrology in mountain areas is particularly important with regard to new and increasing pressures in the upper catchments. Climate variability, causing phenomena such as decrease in precipitation in the western Alps over the last decade and the increase in water abstraction for tourism and artificial snow in particular, require intensive monitoring in different high altitude zones. On the one hand, the measurement of classical hydrological components, such as precipitation, discharge, ET and groundwater is missing and on the other hand, terrestrial photogrammetry and remote sensing techniques are not yet purposefully applied. For example, to monitor the expansion of ski pistes with artificial snow in the Alps and their impacts on the discharge of mountain torrents, a combination of hydrological monitoring under different scenarios, field measurements and high resolution remote sensing is a requirement. Radar methods should provide useful information to monitor the filling levels of new reservoirs built to capture water for the production of artificial snow and to differentiate pistes with natural and artificial snow. The ablation of prolonged snow cover from artificial snow pistes can also be derived from such methods. These data are important for validation and development of existing hydrological models. In the test area of the Arc, Bourg-St-Maurice in Savoy, a hydrological model is run on the impacts of artificial snow on torrent discharge under different scenarios with relation to the construction of a large, new slope reservoir. The construction of such reservoirs in the limited space available at high altitudes, frequently eliminates or largely modifies existing wetlands. Since mountain areas are highly fragile, hydrological modifications and water conflicts related to winter tourism during certain periods of the year require detailed temporal and spatial analysis. Remote sensing techniques should become an essential component in monitoring environmental impact caused by slope reservoirs and ski pistes.

 

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