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„Avalanche training courses are the new highrisk sports“

A presenter on day 5 of ISSW2018 put forward this bold statement. Day 5 was dedicated to avalanche training and rescue. Many presentations highlighted that self-reflection is required in each and every sphere of snow-related activity, in particular in risky situations.

The stability of the snow pack, avalanche forecasting and the role of new media and technologies were the main themes after the very successful „Public Day“ on Wednesday (10 October). This was the ISSW2018 – a sketch of the most important topics.

Day 1 was dedicated to snow and avalanche dynamics as well as engineering measures for avalanche protection. The opening lecture focused on modelling the triggering mechanism and the flow behavior of avalanches. Other highlights of the day included presentations and analysis of major avalanche events, as well as various avalanche detection methodologies, which were particularly discussed in the afternoon’s special topic sessions. The focus here was on operational remote sensing methods.

Fotonachweis: Lawinenwarndienst Tirol
Foto: Lawinenwarndienst Tirol

Day 2 | Climate Change was THE topic in the morning of Day 2. It was featured in contributions from the Alps to Afghanistan and Japan, as well as France and the Rocky Mountains. In France, for example, research is dedicated to uncovering the history of avalanches from historic records; while in the USA, scientists rely on the analysis of rings of trees to reconstruct avalanche activity. Later in the morning, the program went on with the topic snow and how you can produce it efficiently. Topographic uncertainties, software tools, the role of water capture capability of trees during the emergence of avalanches in forests, the interaction of snow and for example soil during avalanche activity, were among the highlights during the afternoon of Day 2.

On Tuesday evening
three outstanding female researcher were honored at Avalanche-Divas-Night: Jennifer Coulter (Canada), Barbara Frigo (Italy) and Ingrid Reiweger (Austria).

Day 3 was dedicated to fieldtrips. The ISSW participants could choose from ten professionally organized excursions to different parts of Tyrol and Vorarlberg, where they discussed snow and avalanche topics in the field. In the afternoon, about 220 people from the general public, who were interested in snow and avalanche issues, attended the ISSW2018 Public Day. About 250 decision-makers from politics, science and practice took part in a parallel event in the afternoon, which was dedicated to ‘Safe living space through new ways in risk management’. The subsequent discussion concluded that continuous training courses are essential for professional risk management.

Day 4 | The structure of a snow pack determines avalanche release. In the early winter, other factors govern the probability of avalanche release than in the late winter or spring. For example, in December and January wind and water vapor transport within the snowpack have greater impact; in spring, air temperature and solar radiation are more important. When you interrelate these results with meteorological data, it becomes clear that in early spring, dry snow avalanches occur not until a few days after precipitation, in contrast wet snow avalanches can release within hours of a precipitation event.

Fotonachweis: Lawinenwarndienst Tirol
Foto: Lawinenwarndienst Tirol

Day 5 was dedicated to education and rescue. One important statement from a survey said that people show more risky behavior after having taken an avalanche training course. About 340 people were interviewed about their willingness to take a chance in dangerous situations. It appeared that men and women between 20 and 29 tend to overestimate their skills. How to handle this fact? These surprising results brought up the idea of integrating a dialog into the training course. This platform is created for reflecting the desire towards taking risks when navigating avalanche terrain.

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Graphical material (conference, graphic recordings, evening events)
user:images pw: freshpowder