Workshop on snow and avalanche research, education and forecasting in Svalbard
16 snow and avalanche researchers and professional practitioners from eight countries participated in the workshop held at UNIS last week.
Snow is present in the landscape of Svalbard for large parts of the year. However, snow and avalanche research has a relatively short history in Svalbard, compared to other parts of the “snow covered world”.
Therefore Markus Eckerstorfer (NORUT, Tromsø), Jordy Hendrikx (Montana State University, MT, USA) and Hanne H. Christiansen (UNIS) hosted between 23-26 April 2013 a snow and avalanche science workshop at UNIS.
The four day long workshop was funded by the Svalbard Science Forum, enabling 16 snow and avalanche researchers and professional practitioners from 12 institutions and eight different countries to participate in the workshop.
The three main goals of the workshop were to (1) Introduce current Svalbard snow and avalanche research, mitigation measures, accidents and ongoing geohazards problems to the participating international experts; (2) relate Svalbard snow and avalanche work to international efforts presented by the workshop participants and (3) discuss future snow and avalanche research, education and forecasting and potential mitigation measures in central Svalbard.
The workshop participants engaging in digging a snowpit at the terminus slope of the Larsbreen rock glacier. Here, lively discussions about snowpack stability tests and their application possibilities in Svalbard were discussed. (Photo: Stephan Vogel/UNIS).
The workshop was split up into indoor lectures and discussions as well as a walking excursion through Longyeardalen and snowpack stability related fieldwork. The workshop ended with discussions on identifying future key research challenges for snow and avalanche research, emphasizing especially important topics for Svalbard.
Furthermore recommendations for increased snow and avalanche education in Longyearbyen in particular at UNIS as well as recommendations for a future avalanche warning and forecasting service for Longyearbyen and close surroundings, were formulated.
Dr. Karl Birkeland, Director of the USDA Forest Service National Avalanche Center, USA, gave a lecture on avalanche awareness at UNIS, as outreach to the Longyearbyen community. The evening was organized together with LySEF and about 80 people attended the lecture.
From left to right, first row: Patrick Nairz (Avalanche warning service Tyrol, Austria), Markus Eckerstorfer (Norut, Norway), Karsten Mueller (NVE, Norway), Karl Birkeland (USDA Forest Service National Avalanche Center, USA), Ron Simenhois (Coeur Alaska, USA), Christopher D’Amboise (NVE, Oslo), Stefan Margreth (WSL, Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF), Switzerland.
From left to right, second row: Wesley Farnsworth (UNIS, Norway), Elke Morgner (Red Cross LYR, Norway), Hanne Christiansen (UNIS, Norway), Jordy Hendrikx (Montana State University, USA), Christian Jaedicke (NGI, Norway), Mikkel Kristiansen (UNIS, Norway), Stephan Vogel (UNIS, Norway), Kelly Elder (USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USA), Alexander Prokop (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria). (Photo: