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Danger ratings are used across many fields to convey the severity of a hazard. In avalanche risk management, danger ratings play a prominent role in public bulletins where they concisely describe existing and expected conditions. While there is considerable research examining the accuracy and consistency of avalanche danger ratings, how backcountry recreationists interpret and apply the scale has so far not received much attention. Using the responses from 3195 participants to an online survey, this research provides insight into how recreationists perceive and use the North American Public Avalanche Danger Scale during trip planning. In addition, the study examines how background variables such as levels of engagement in an activity and avalanche safety training relate to the observed patterns. The results from this research offer evidence-based reflections on how the effectiveness of the danger scale could be improved for the recreationists who rely on it the most.
Click here to access a copy of Abby’s thesis.