Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-2
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
08 Jan 2018
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Characterizing the nature and variability of avalanche hazard in western Canada
Bret Shandro and Pascal Haegeli SFU Avalanche Research Program, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, V5A 1S6, Canada
Abstract. The snow and avalanche climate types maritime, continental and transitional are well established and have been used extensively to characterize the general nature of avalanche hazard at a location, study interseasonal and large-scale spatial variabilities and provide context for the design of avalanche safety operations. While researchers and practitioners have an experience-based understanding of the avalanche hazard associated with the three climate types, no studies have described the hazard character of an avalanche climate in detail. Since the 2009/10 winter, the consistent use of Statham et al.'s (2017) conceptual model of avalanche hazard in public avalanche bulletins in Canada created a new quantitative record of avalanche hazard that offers novel opportunities for addressing this knowledge gap. We identified typical daily avalanche hazard situations using Self Organizing Maps (SOM) and then calculated seasonal prevalence values of these situations. This approach produces a concise characterization measure that is conducive to statistical analyses, but still provides a comprehensive picture that is informative for avalanche risk management due to its link to avalanche problem types. Hazard situation prevalence values for individual seasons, elevations bands and forecast regions provide unprecedented insight into the interseasonal and spatial variability of avalanche hazard in western Canada.

Citation: Shandro, B. and Haegeli, P.: Characterizing the nature and variability of avalanche hazard in western Canada, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-2, in review, 2018.
Bret Shandro and Pascal Haegeli
Bret Shandro and Pascal Haegeli
Bret Shandro and Pascal Haegeli

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Short summary
While the concept of snow and avalanche climates is widely used to describe the general nature of avalanche hazard, no research has described the hazard character of avalanche climates in detail. We use Canadian avalanche bulletin data that use the conceptual model of avalanche hazard from 2009/10 to 2016/17 to identify common hazard situations and calculate their seasonal prevalence. Our results provide detailed insights into the nature and variability of avalanche hazard in western Canada.
While the concept of snow and avalanche climates is widely used to describe the general nature...
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