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Satellites monitor landslide in the Alps

03 February 2017

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Climate change-driven glacial melt is causing landslides in alpine regions. Data from the Sentinel-1 satellite mission are being inserted into a new cloud computing system to monitor such hazards globally.

The Aletsch Glacier, the largest in the Alps, is experiencing an average retreat of about 50 m a year. The adjacent rocks that were previously constrained by the ice mass are progressively being released, generating slope instabilities. For this reason, the Aletsch region is a unique place where scientists can investigate how changes in glaciers affect the long- and short-term evolution of rock slope stability.

To monitor the progressive changes occurring throughout a 2 sq km area southeast of the glacier - called the Moosfluh slope - the Chair of Engineering Geology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) installed ground-based instruments in 2013.

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