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Fire, forest

(856 words)

Author(s): Rohr, Christian
1. Introduction Forest fires have a range of causes. They may be started by lightning strikes, by spontaneous ignition after long periods of drought, or by deliberate or accidental human influence, such as premeditated arson or slash-and-burn clearance (Shifting cultivation). One of the main problems of forest fires and forest clearance in particular is that the humus layer is generally destroyed in the process, with light ash easily dispersed by wind, rain, meltwaters, or avalanches [3. 463]. However, certain tree species, such as mountain pines, do apparently regen…
Date: 2019-10-14

Insects

(939 words)

Author(s): Rohr, Christian
1. Introduction Insects were a regular topic of works of natural history, theology, and literature, and sometimes visual art, from antiquity on. Two distinct modes of perception and interpretation are discernible, and these remained practically unaltered across the millennia.On the one hand, bees were the epitome of insects useful to humankind (cf. also Dimorphism). Their proverbial diligence was particularly associated with the Church Father Ambrose of Milan in medieval and early modern iconography, and his attribute was therefore …
Date: 2019-10-14

Avalanche

(936 words)

Author(s): Rohr, Christian
1. Introduction An avalanche is a rapidly sliding or falling mass of snow - sometimes ice - that detaches from a steep, unforested slope and descends to the valley. The phenomenon occurs in particular in association with heavy snowfalls, a thaw, or severe drifting, but it can also be triggered by human activity. Modern research into avalanches distinguishes two fundamental types: wet avalanches and dry (powder) avalanches. In a wet avalanche, a slab of usually wet snow detaches and slides, without…
Date: 2019-10-14

Inundation

(3,104 words)

Author(s): Rohr, Christian
1. Introduction From the perspective of hydrology, a distinction is made between a flood and an inundation. The former is defined as a “condition in a body of aboveground water in which the surface level or flow rate reaches or exceeds a certain value (threshold value)” [23. 15 f.]. The three key values for a flood are peak discharge, duration, and the water quantity flowing [13. 294–296]. A flood can break the banks of a river bed, either when the water level rises above a certain point or when protective embankments are breached, and thereby bring about …
Date: 2019-10-14

Earthquake

(2,649 words)

Author(s): Glaser, Rüdiger | Rohr, Christian
1. Introduction 1.1. The geotectonic causes of earthquakesEarthquakes are expressions of ongoing tectonic processes that are caused by sudden releases of pressure. They can be classified by location, either as intraplate disturbances on faults like the Rhine Rift Valley, or as interplate earthquakes, where two tectonic plates meet and subduct, or by depth, as shallow-focus or deep-focus quakes. Most damage is done by relatively weak but shallow earthquakes. Along faults, visible slippages of several meters can occur.The so-called mainshock is often preceded by smaller f…
Date: 2019-10-14