Heather Hordowick
M.R.M. thesis, 2022-04. School of Resource and Environmental Management. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.
Publication year: 2022


Avalanche problems have become a fundamental component of avalanche hazard assessment and communication since the introduction of the Conceptual Model of Avalanche Hazard. However, the observations used to assess them are not explicitly defined and rely largely on avalanche forecasters’ subjective judgements that are prone to noise and bias. This study uses concept mapping to develop a comprehensive understanding of factors influencing operational applications of avalanche problems in public avalanche bulletins in Canada. Interviews with 22 experienced forecasters revealed a diverse range of physical observations and additional considerations. While some of the observed inconsistencies can be attributed to physical differences among forecast regions, others originate from personal perspectives on risk communication considerations, approaches to dealing with uncertainty, and attributes of operational forecast systems. This research offers a starting point for the development of more objective criteria for adding and removing avalanche problems in public bulletins.

Click here to access a copy of Heather’s thesis.

If you are interested in the concept maps, click here to access a copy of Heather’s thesis with the concept maps included (55 MB)