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8 Problems in Communications TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER Essential in fields where research-generated technology is to be implemented, technol- ogy transfer is crucial to the operation of avalanche forecasting centers, highway depart- ments, and planning agencies, which must apply new technological information. Currently, there are few mechanisms for technology transfer in the avalanche field. This situation is aggravated by the fact that foreign research and technology developments have outstepped efforts in the United States and by the absence of any federal program with the responsibility to coordinate technological developments. The avalanche situation mimics the deteriorated state of U.S. industrial competitiveness (National Academy of Engineering, 1987~. Technology transfer implies a kind of balanced equation. On one side are laboratory and university-based scientists and engineers now mainly in institutions abroad striving to gain a better understanding of the properties and processes of snow and avalanches, while on the other side practitioners attempt to put these results to practical use. Currently, even when research results are published in English, they are generally presented in the language of science or engineering, which is difficult for many practitioners to understand and apply. For instance, new formulations on avalanche flow have been developed that offer a better way to predict hazard boundaries and impact loads on structures. These formulations, claimed to be superior to previous theories, are demonstrated for only a small number of examples. Practitioners may perhaps be expected to be able to follow the reasoning and immediately apply it in their work. However, due to a lack of rigorous scientific training among most practitioners, this simply does not happen. The Avalanche Review, the official publication of the American Association of Ava- lanche Professionals, and the International Snow Science Workshop, held in the United States or Canada every 2 years, are useful instruments for technology transfer. Avalanche Review is a nonprofit publication that provides information transfer between researcher and practitioner and background information for the general public. Publisher} six times each year, the journal contains research results written in layperson's terms, book reviews, 62
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63 and news of avalanche incidents and snowpack and weather conditions for the avalanche community in North America and around the world. In 1986 the American Association of Avalanche Professionals (AAAP) was organized as a nonprofit association with the goals of representing the professional interests of the U.S. avalanche community, contributing to high standards of professional competence, ex- changing technical information, acting as a resource base for public awareness programs, and promoting research and development. This fledgling organization has high goals and a small but energetic membership; funds are limited and are derived mainly from member- ship dues. The Swiss FISAR has offered its cooperation to AAAP in matters concerning the "International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction" activities (C. Jaccar`d, Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research, Davos, Switzerland, personal communication, 1986~. Prior to 1984 the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Alpine Snow and Avalanche Project in Fort Collins, Colorado, served as a repository for avalanche accident data reported on standard avalanche accident forms and published in The Snowy Torrents (Gallagher, 1967; Williams, 1975; Williams and Armstrong, 1984a). These accident data were stored in Colorado State University's mainframe computer system, and programs were written for data analysis. When the USES transferred administration of the Avalanche Warning Center to the State of Colorado in 1984, this information was entered into a data-base management program on the Colorado Avalanche Information Center's (CATC) microcomputer. The former Alpine Snow and Avalanche Project collected mountain weather and avalanche event data from numerous ski areas and observation sites in the western states, which are now the basis of the Westw~de data network, managed at a reduced level by the CATC. The CATC publishes a monthly newsletter, Avalanche Notes, from November through April, that summarizes monthly weather and avalanche events and provides a narrative of avalanche accidents for each month from the western states and Alaska. These data are also stored in Colorado State University's mainframe computer. Support to manage this data base comes from the USES. EDUCATION Information programs are essential for bringing avalanche information to the attention of the public. Any hazard-reduction program depends on public understanding and public support (Kockelman, 19S6~. Thus, education on avalanche matters, oriented primarily toward those who live, work, or vacation in the mountains, may be undertaken by individuals, agencies, schools, nonprofit organizations, and scecial-interest croups. TvDical techniques are given in the box below. ~ cow . ~ 1 ~ - The need for education is underscored by the fact that in the United States between 1950 and 1985, 75 percent of the 290 known avalanche fatalities were vacationers and of these the majority were traveling in the backcountry (Armstrong and Williams, 1986~. In Alaska alone about 260 of the 278 individuals known to have been caught in avalanches between 1980 and 1985 actually triggered the slides that caught them (Fredston and Fester, 1985~. And in a recent survey by the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center of 154 winter backcountry users, respondents each witnessed an average of 5.2 human-triggered avalanches; 4 out of every 10 were themselves caught by avalanches (Tremper and Ream, 19~. The number of avalanche accidents thus continues to climb nationwide as backcountry use increases and more travelers with limited avalanche awareness access mountainous terrain. The high
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64 TYPICAL COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUES FOR AVALANCHE HAZARD REDUCTION Educational Services Assisting and cooperating with universities and their extension divisions in the preparation of course outlines, detailed lectures, case books, and display materials. l Contacting speakers and participating as lecturers in regional and community educational programs. Sponsoring, conducting, and participating in topical and areal seminars, workshops, short courses, technology utilization sessions, cluster meetings, innovative transfer meetings, training symposia, and other discussions with user groups. Releasing information needed to address critical avalanche hazards early through oral briefings, seminars, map-type "interpretive inventories," open-file reports, reports of cooperating agencies, and "official use only" materials. Sponsoring or cosponsoring conferences for planners and decision makers at which the result of avalanche studies are displayed and reported to users. Providing speakers to government, civic, corporate, conservation, and citizen groups and participating in radio and television programs to explain or report on avalanche hazard-reduction programs and products. Assisting and cooperating with regional and community groups to incorporate avalanche information into school curricula. Preparing and exhibiting displays that present avalanche information and illustrate their use in hazard reduction. Attending and participating in meetings with local, district, and state agencies and their governing bodies to present avalanche information. Guiding field trips to potentially hazardous sites. Preparing and distributing brochures, films, videotapes, and other visual materials. Advisory Services Preparing annotated and indexed bibliographies of avalanche information and providing lists of pertinent reference material to various users. Assisting local, state, and federal agencies in designing policies, procedures, ordinances, statutes, and regulations that cite or make other use of avalanche information. Assisting in recruiting, interviewing, and selecting planners, engineers, and scientists by government agencies for which education and training in avalanche information collection, interpretation, and application are criteria. Assisting local, state, and federal agencies in the design of their avalanche information collection and interpretation programs and in their work specifications.
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65 Providing expert testimony and depositions concerning avalanche research information. Assisting in the presentation and adoption of plans and plan implementation devices that are based on avalanche Information. Assisting in the incorporation of avalanche information into local, state, and federal studies and plans. Preparing brief fact sheets or transmittal letters about avalanches explaining their impact on local, state, and federal planning and decision making. Preparing users in the creation, organization, staffing, and formation of local, state, and federal planning and plan implementation programs so as to assure the proper and timely use of avalanche hazard information. Preparing and distributing appropriate user guides relating to avalanche processes, mapping, and hazard-reduction techniques. Preparing model state avalanche safety legislation, regulations, and development policies. Preparing model local avalanche safety policies, plan criteria, and plan implementation devices. Review Services Review of proposed programs for collecting and interpreting avalanche information. Review of local, state, and federal policies, administrative procedures, and legislative analyses that have a direct effect on avalanche information. Review of proposed policies, procedures, and legal enactments that cite avalanche information. Review studies and plans based on avalanche information. SOURCE: Adapted from Kockelman (1986~.
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66 percentage of human-caused accidents and the indication that the same mistakes are made repeatedly point to the urgent need for avalanche education. A variety of programs and schools offering different levels and types of avalanche training have been established in the United States, including avalanche awareness lectures, intensive avalanche hazard-evaluation workshops (basic and advanced) and professional courses. Avalanche-related courses are offered by only a handful of universities (Montagne, 19~. Early avalanche training was sponsored by the USES in the 1950s. In 1971 the USES founded the National Avalanche School, which is held every 2 years and now has a capacity of more than 200 students per session. Emphasis in the 5-day school is on providing a technical basis for practical work, rather than on state-of-the-art research and high-level technology transfer. Optional Phase IT field courses in a number of mountain locations offer the opportunity for site-specific applications of material presented in classroom sessions. Demand for the lecture program has exceeded availability, due to space limitations and the desire for a low student-teacher ratio. Administration of the school was assumed by the National Avalanche Foundation from 1981 to 1985, and in 1986 its administration was again transferred, this time to the National Ski Patrol System (NSPS). Actual instruction in the school is carried out by experts in the avalanche field, and over the years the roster of instructors has not changed much despite shifts in administration. The NSPS, a nonprofit volunteer winter rescue organization chartered by Congress, is the largest single provider of avalanche education. The NSPS has for many years provided avalanche training to its patrol members and the general public. In a typical year it holds 75 or more basic avalanche courses, each consisting of at least 12 hours of instruction. These courses provide introductory training to over 750 members of the NSPS and at least 400 nonmembers. The National Ski Patrol also conducts about 10 advanced avalanche courses, each consisting of 4 days of classroom and field work. A certificate of completion is awarded annually to about 100 patrollers and 25 nonmembers. The National Ski Patrol also promotes avalanche awareness through public lectures that each year reach several thousand members of the skiing public. AAAP ant! NSPS members occasionally make radio and television appearances and provide informational articles for various magazines and newspapers. Such activities are generally undertaken on a volunteer basis but serve a useful purpose, as the public cannot readily interpret avalanche media bulletins without some knowledge of avalanche hazard evaluation. The American Avalanche Institute (AAT), founded in 1974 by a private individual, was the first private avalanche school in the United States offering both classroom and field training. AAl has held a variety of courses throughout the western states and in New Hampshire, varying from ~ to 4 days in length. Participants are primarily backcountry skiers, climbers, and professional ski patrollers. The State of Alaska subsidized avalanche education from 1972 through 1986. In 1972 the Department of Natural Resources created the Alaska Avalanche School (AAS), which in 1980 became a primary component of the Alaska Snow Avalanche Safety Program. The AAS conducted more than 100 major workshops involving over Il,000 participant-days of training, provided hundreds of shorter lectures and workshops for schools and civic groups, and generated avalanche information to the public through the media. When funding for the statewide avalanche program was terminated in 1986, the Alaska Mountain Safety Center was established by private individuals as a nonprofit educational organization to operate the Alaska Avalanche School.
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67 Numerous regional and local schools are run by individual search and rescue groups, mountaineering clubs, guiding companies, and recreation equipment stores. While the ma- jority of courses in the United States are geared toward recreationists, there have been a few special courses, such as the AAl's "Avalanche Litigation Workshop" and the AAS's "Avalanche Hazard Evaluation in Land Use Planning" for planners, engineers, and policy- makers. Education has also been carried out through several other forums; the three regional avalanche forecast centers, for example, have reached hundreds of thousands of people via recorded snow-stability messages as well as short courses and workshops. During the winter of 1985-1986, the Colorado Avalanche Information Center taught 1,184 people, in courses ranging from basic avalanche safety lectures to field sessions for experienced avalanche practitioners (Williams, 1986~. However, in recent years avalanche forecast center budgets have been reduced, personnel have been eliminated, and fewer resources have been allotted to avalanche education. COMMENTS I. Many foreign nations have their own research centers and have moved ahead of the United States in innovative technologies. The United States would benefit from en- hanced access to this increasingly significant body of technological information. Technology transfer could be improved by more frequent seminars, training sessions, and publications to disseminate information on new developments. 2. Technology transfer also remains a problem because of the complex nature of theo- retical and practical avalanche technology and the lack of rigorous technical training among most practitioners. Much of the new technology is computer dependent, including such topics as mountain meteorology, blowing snow, avalanche flow, snowpack structural change by metamorphism, and avalanche release mechanisms and mechanics. If this technology is to be successfully transferred to practitioners, appropriate user-friendly software must be developed and documented, demonstrated to the appropriate technicians, and made available with technical support. Even with such software. judgment is likeiv to remain a problem. 3. Another matter requiring attention is the lack of a centralized repository for snow- pack and avalanche information. Individual avalanche forecast centers collect avalanche occurrence and snow stratigraphy data and carry out local investigations, but the data are only incompletely archived and collected for research use. 4. While it is difficult to quantifier the success of available educational programs in preventing avalanche accidents, few question their desirability, and several praiseworthy programs have been developed. A basic problem is that funding has been insufficient to sustain some effective programs. Even within the primary target group of recreationists, only a small percentage have received minimal training. Safe, high-quality training is costly, and private schools have found it financially difficult to offer high-quality courses at a reasonable price. The cost of liability insurance has become a major factor in limiting the success of private educational ventures (R. Newcomb, American Avalanche Institute, Wilson, Wyoming, personal communication, 1986; Burr, 1989~. 5. A related nationwide problem is that most avalanche instructors are "borrowed" by specific schools from their conventional full-time work. Skilled individuals are often unavailable for training others. Furthermore, knowledgeable individuals are not necessarily , . ~ ,
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68 skilled educators. The time and funding needed to train qualified avalanche workers as instructors, or to produce needed educational materials, have always been inadequate. The situation is frustrating because most avalanche accidents are avoidable, and education offers a powerful too! for prevention. 6. The National Avalanche School and comparable AAl programs are basic in nature. More intensive specialized training is needed in blasting, artillery operations, and rescue operations.
Representative terms from entire chapter: