2 PhD positions in avalanche safety research available at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada

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2 PhD positions in avalanche safety research available at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada

Pascal Haegeli-2
The Avalanche Research Program at Simon Fraser University is currently
looking for two PhD students for the fall of 2018.

PhD POSITION 1: LARGE-SCALE AVALANCHE HAZARD ASSESSMENT MODELLING

The proposed project for this PhD position is part of a bigger research
effort to improve the operational use and value of numerical snowpack
models among avalanche safety operations in Canada. Recent research has
shown that coupling numerical weather prediction models with snowpack
models can predict the main features of the snow stratigraphy. This
opens new opportunities for getting insight into avalanche conditions in
areas where direct human observations are sparse. The goal of this PhD
research project is to combine the existing research with our
understanding of the human avalanche hazard assessment expertise to
develop a new, built-in-Canada model chain that not only produces
weather and snowpack data summaries, but also interprets this
information in a meaningful way. This research will be conducted in
close collaboration with avalanche forecasters to ensure the model chain
provides value-added information and smooth integration into the
operational avalanche forecasting process.

PhD POSITION 2: AVALANCHE RISK MANAGEMENT IN MECHANIZED SKIING
OPERATIONS THROUGH TERRAIN SELECTION

The proposed project for this PhD position is part of a bigger research
effort to better understand the risk from avalanches involved in
helicopter and snowcat assisted backcountry skiing (known as mechanized
backcountry skiing) and how this risk can be managed through terrain
selection. Professional mountain guides have tremendous expertise in
managing avalanche risk. However, while the steps of the process are
well known, guides have difficulties articulating the underlying
assessment and decision rules because they are experience-based and have
become completely intuitive. This lack of formalization prevents a
careful evaluation of existing risk management practices and the
development of evidence-based decision aids. Over the last three
winters, we have documented avalanche risk management practices at six
collaborating mechanized skiing operations by tracking terrain choices
of guides. To-date, we have collected high-resolution GPS tracks from
more than 30,000 ski runs over a wide variety of avalanche hazard
conditions. The goal of this PhD research project is to ascertain ski
guides’ expert knowledge and describe existing risk management practices
by exploring this unique dataset using advanced methods from statistics,
machine learning and GIS. The extracted rules will be used to develop
decision aids that help guides and recreationists make better informed
decision when travelling in avalanche terrain.

Both of these positions have secure funding for 3.5 year. To find out
more about these PhD opportunities, please visit
http://www.avalancheresearch.ca/opportunities/ or directly contact
Pascal Haegeli at [hidden email]. The deadline for application is
February 1, 2018.

Looking forward to hearing from you.
Pascal

Pascal Haegeli, PhD
Assistant Professor
NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Avalanche Risk Management
School of Resource and Environmental Management
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby BC  V5A 1S6  Canada
web: www.avalancheresearch.ca
email: [hidden email]
phone: +1 778 782 3579
cell: +1 604 773 0854
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