Avalanches: Cause and Effect, and the Armed Forces

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by tarunraju, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. tarunraju

    tarunraju Moderator Moderator

    Sep 18, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Avalanches are among nature's most destructive forces. At the same time, avalanches are also a very human-controllable phenomenon, much like landslides occurring in areas of poor-quality earth movement (such as construction, mining, etc). This time of the year in the northern hemisphere, when winter transits into spring, the snow covering mountain slopes are precariously held to the slopes. This winter in particular has seen increased snowfall and prolonged winter, though topical and sub-tropical parts of the hemisphere are already warming up for spring. Excessive amounts of snow layered onto several slopes, mixed with unpredictable weather are the makings of a disaster. Upper layers are prone to shear with lower ones, and drift down causing devastating avalanches.


    India's Armed Forces deployed in our states of Jammu and Kashmir, and Himanchal Pradesh have been at its receiving end, with a third report of an avalanche striking a defensive position and/or army installation, killing and injuring our troops. Is it too much of a coincidence that our army is affected by avalanches? Not too much of recorded history shows army positions being hit by avalanches, as much as snow storms, or other forms of 'natural disaster'.

    Getting back to the point of avalanches being a "very human-controllable phenomenon" highlighted in the first paragraph, avalanches can be controlled, but also synthesized, accidentally, or otherwise.

    Avalanches are a very relevant phenomenon for popular winter sports on mountain slopes in Europe and North America. Excessive disturbances caused by the sportspersons (skiers, snowboarders, etc.), cause upper layers of snow to shear and wither away in avalanches. Authorities governing such ski resorts always keep a scientific vigil on the state of those slopes. Often, slopes that have too thick snow have looser upper layers, and sometimes deemed unfit for sport by the authorities. The authorities then carry out controlled avalanches by carefully planting explosive charges. This ensures that the slopes are 'in shape', and fit for sports.


    The ease with which avalanches can be 'controlled', and 'created' is particularly disturbing, in context of Kashmir. Malicious elements can 'cause' avalanches, and on the other hand, with a clever bit of planning, scientific investment, the army can 'control' them, for the larger safety of our military installations and the local populations.

    Scope for Discussion:
    • To investigate through discussion the plausibility of controlled avalanches affecting our country in Kashmir
    • To discuss on a government body that monitors snow on our slopes and conducts controlled avalanches which enhance the safety of our military installations and local populations.
  3. tharikiran

    tharikiran Regular Member

    Jun 11, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I believe we already have a organisation to take care of these roads.Avalanches in these areas must be a common occurrence every year during winter.
    What I am surprised by is why was no alarm raised this time if there was high snow fall.Traffic should have been stopped.

    Controlled avalanches are done usually by fixing charges at the top of the mountain. I guess, it is very difficult and impractical to monitor the entire stretch of the highway for potential spots.

    One would need helicopters who are patrolling/monitoring from above. Again, if the weather is not good they cant do their job.We dont know how accessible these hill tops are either.

    Can the helicopters land ? Protecting a town is different from monitoring a entire stretch of highway. My view is ... it is impractical. The best we can do is stop traffic if there is heavy snowfall.
    Then if the weather clears up ; do a check of the stretch of highway. Do controlled avalanches if need be and then allow traffic.
  4. A.V.

    A.V. New Member

    Feb 16, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Moscow, russia
    the organization who studies avalanches in india is Snow Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) unit , they did issue a warning in this case but the it went unheeded
    the army independently has a full-fledged unit of the SASE in Kashmir with 40 observatories in various locations. The SASE regularly issues warnings and alerts to Army formations and units deployed in high-altitude areas and along the Line of Control.but the problem is with the accuracy of these warnings we need to invest money on better sensors and encourage research labs which study patterns of snow and their movement . what i think now its too primitive and is on a small scale
    i am not sure how much sensory sats can help in this feild some expert can comment on how sats might help but here is sure some upgrade needed to avoid these disasters in the future . human life is precious we do not need to fight with nature rather get in sync with it special training i am sure is given to armed forces to better manage with natural disasters and its time we improve and stress on these

Share This Page