871011 Natural Hazards – a Challenge for the Future

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Kaitna, Roland , Hübl, Johannes , Scheidl, Christian , Reiweger, Ingrid , Fuchs, Sven
Offered in
Wintersemester 2022/23
Languages of instruction
Englisch, Deutsch


The effects of climate change in combination with socio-economic structural change are changing the risk posed by natural hazards in many mountain regions worldwide. In the Austrian Alpine region, too, natural hazards have repeatedly occurred in recent years, leading to high damages and often being referred to as extreme events in politics, but also among the population - intensified by media coverage. The high economic and private damages bring the question to the fore, which societal adaptation strategies are necessary to reduce such damages in the future.
The course approaches this question using (a) a retrospective perspective that highlights developments in research and practice, and then (b) derives possible development paths and future challenges for the management of natural hazards. In six sessions, key topics and scientific approaches in natural hazard management will be presented; topics range from innovative methods of hazard assessment and modeling to socio-economic challenges and impacts of climate change on alpine natural hazards. The thematic blocks are introduced via lectures by national and international experts from science and practice.

18. Oktober: Prof. Dr. Leonard Sklar (Concordia University, Canada)
20. Oktober: Dr. Markus Zimmermann (ndr Consulting, Schweiz) – From the prevention of hazards to the building of resilience. Thirty years of global and local DRR development
8. November: Dr. Rebecca Mott (Institut für Schnee- und Lawinenforschung SLF) – Snow distribution in mountains: relevance for predicting floods, droughts or slope instabilities
10. November: Dr. Massimiliano Schwarz (Berner Fachhochschule) - Waldboden und Naturgefahren
15. November: Prof. Dr. Marcel Hürlimann (Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spanien) – From monitoring and modelling of shallow slides and debris flows to the mitigation of their impacts
22. November: Prof. Dr. Alexander Fekete (Technische Hochschule Köln) – Soziale Verwundbarkeit: Priorisierung und Diversität
29. November: Dr. Andreas Gobiet (Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik, Österreich) – Klimawandel im Alpenraum und Auswirkungen auf Naturgefahren

After each unit there will be the opportunity for personal contact and discussion with the lecturers and guests.
The lecture Series „Ringvorlesung Naturgefahren – Herausforderungen für die Zukunft" is organized in the framework of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Institute for Alpine Natural Hazards.

Previous knowledge expected

A completed bachelor's degree is recommended. A basic understanding of the analysis and assessment of (natural) hazards and risks is required, as well as an interest in current challenges in natural hazards research. English language skills are an advantage.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

Students will acquire an insight of different approaches to the topic of natural hazards. The interdisciplinary approach will establish the connections between current and future issues in research and outline the challenges in the context of societal demands.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.