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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Snow avalanche risk and decision support for clear-cut harvested terrain Stitzinger, Kevin Raymond

Abstract

The focus of this thesis is on forest practices in snow avalanche prone mountainous regions of British Columbia, Canada, and the resulting risks associated with operations utilizing current practices. The objective of the study is to address problems generated by current practices through the development of a risk-based decision support system for the analysis of risk to the environment and to future logging operations prior to harvest. Relationships between terrain, climate and vegetation variables and frequency and magnitude necessary for the determination of risk are developed on the basis of a comprehensive database characterizing snow avalanche terrain in cut-blocks, past correlation and multivariate regression studies and physical reasoning. Through the selection of variables characterizing snow avalanche terrain of past events, the weighting of variable ranges and ranking of the variables with regard to their influence on either frequency or magnitude of avalanching, every possible combination of variables has been assessed a qualitative low, moderate or high chance relating the degree of belief that the given combination of variables could develop an event within the first 10 years following harvest and whether it would be greater than size 3 (estimated for the Canadian Snow Avalanche Size Classification System). From this information a framework for making risk assessments prior to harvest and decision trees for guiding the mitigation of risk are developed.

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