Item: Evaluation of avalanche warning strategies for traffic routes using signal detection theory
Title: Evaluation of avalanche warning strategies for traffic routes using signal detection theory
Proceedings: International Snow Science Workshop, Davos 2009, Proceedings
Authors: Christoph M. Rheinberger1,* and Jakob Rhyner1 1 WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland
Abstract: Avalanche warning services (AWS) are operated to protect communities and traffic lines in avalanche prone regions of the Alps and other mountain ranges. In times of high avalanche danger, these services may decide to close a road or to evacuate a settlement. Their decisions are based on field observations, release statistics, forecasts issued by weather services and the experience of their operators. Due to the spatial variability in the snowpack and the insufficient understanding of avalanche triggering, these decisions are characterized by large uncertainty and the knowledge on which AWS have to base their safety-relevant decisions is incomplete. In this paper, we will show how signal detection theory (SDT) can be applied to make better use of the information that AWS have at hand. The proposed SDT-framework allows (i) the evaluation of past decisions on road closures and (ii) the improvement of the decision performance of AWS given their diagnostic ability and the disutility of decision failures. We will exemplify the use of this framework by evaluating the decision performance of two AWS and discuss the advantages of a formalized decision-making upon road closures.
Keywords: signal detection theory, statistical performance measures, diagnostic ability, avalanche warning services (aws)
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