Snow avalanches claim about 10 lives in Canada every year, more than any other natural hazard. Most victims are private backcountry recreationists (e.g., skiers, snowmobilers, mountaineers) making their own decisions, but avalanches also threaten villages, utility lines, resource operations and cause traffic hazard and economic loss by blocking highways and railways.

Avalanche research programs have traditionally primarily taken a snow science/engineering perspective, but the SFU Avalanche Research Program (SARP) aims to approach the topic of avalanche safety more broadly to better understand the interplay of all components affecting avalanche risk and develop innovative solutions for managing it more effectively.

This website provides you with access to the research portfolio of Dr. Pascal Haegeli, who holds the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Avalanche Risk Management and leads the Avalanche Research Program in the School for Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, BC, Canada.

New Research Project

To help us build products and tools that better match what you need to stay safe, we are kicking off a study to better understand how winter backcountry recreationists manage avalanche risk when travelling in the backcountry.

Please click here for more information on the study and to register as a potential study participant.

Research Objective

Interdisciplinary research and development for improved avalanche safety

Our research interests lie at the interface between the natural and social sciences, and our objective is to conduct interdisciplinary research and develop evidence-based tools that assist backcountry recreationists and avalanche professionals to make better informed decisions when preparing for and travelling in avalanche terrain.

To address these challenges, we work closely with our partners in the Canadian avalanche community and employ research approaches and methods from a wide variety of fields including atmospheric science, snow science, geography, GIS, risk analysis, decision-making science, communication, psychology, sociology, accident analysis, public health and medicine.

Click here for more information on our research areas.

Resources

This website offers access to the following SARP resources:

REM 427/627

Want to learn more about avalanches and how to manage the associated risk?

Click here for more information about the university course Pascal Haegeli will be teaching at SFU during the upcoming 2022 spring term.

Latest Publications

Using snow depth observation to provide insight into the quality of regional-scale snowpack simulations for avalanche forecasting

Hazard AssessmentJournal PaperUnder public review
Simon Horton and Pascal Haegeli
EGUsphere [preprint], https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2022-237, in review
Publication year: 2022

Brief communication: A numerical tool for averaging large data sets of snow stratigraphy profiles useful for avalanche forecasting

Hazard AssessmentJournal PaperUnder public review
Florian Herla, Pascal Haegeli and Patrick Mair
The Cryosphere Discuss. [preprint], https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2022-29, in review
Publication year: 2022

Understanding Avalanche Problem Assessments: A Concept Mapping Study with Public Avalanche Forecasters

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

A user perspective on the avalanche danger scale – Insights from North America

Risk CommunicationThesisUser Groups
Abby Morgan
M.R.M. research project no. 778, 2021-12. School of Resource and Environmental Management. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, B.C.
Publication year: 2021

Automated snow avalanche release area delineation in data sparse, remote, and forested regions

Journal PaperTerrain ManagementUnder public review
John Sykes, Pascal Haegeli and Yves Bühler
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. [preprint], https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-330, in review, 2021.
Publication year: 2021

Travel and terrain advice statements in public avalanche bulletins: A quantitative analysis of who uses this information, what makes it useful, and how it can be improved for users

Journal PaperRisk CommunicationUnder public review
Katie Fisher, Pascal Haegeli and Patrick Mair
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss. [preprint], https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-324, in review, 2021.
Publication year: 2021

Click here for a full listing of SARP publications.