Item: Using gis to visualize historical avalanche data
Title: Using gis to visualize historical avalanche data
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 2000 International Snow Science Workshop, October 1-6, Big Sky, Montana
Authors: C. McCollister, K. Birkeland, K. Hansen, and R. Aspinall, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University
Abstract: Most historical avalanche data are stored in tabular form, and are difficult to access and visualize. This project utilizes a Geographic Information System (GIS) to spatially visualize historical avalanche data at Jackson Hole Ski Area in Wyoming, USA. Jackson Hole is an ideal location for this study because: 1) the ski patrol have been collecting avalanche and weather records for over 25 years, 2) the ski area is spatially diverse, with aspects ranging from north to east to sough, and 3) a three-meter Digital Elevation Model (OEM) and a geo-referenced orthophoto are available for the area. We have combined the OEM, orthophoto, and historical data to geographically display historical avalanche data, as well as to be used for future statistical modeling. The GIS allows greater three-dimensional visualization of historical avalanche data by displaying specific avalanche path activity and corresponding size, thereby enabling forecasters to better utilize their historical data. Additional weather information can be displayed simultaneously, and the entire picture can be viewed through time in a frame-by-frame movie format to help avalanche forecasters observe trends. The GIS can also be used to obtain data about specific avalanche paths such as slope, elevation, and aspect. We hope to use these data to train statistical models, and to eventually display historical avalanche activity that most closely resembles the current day in real-time for the ski area avalanche forecasters.
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Keywords: avalanches, avalanche forecasting, geographic information systems (gis), historical avalanche data
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