Frank Techel

Frank Techel
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF · Avalanche Warning Service

PhD

About

91
Publications
22,136
Reads
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895
Citations
Citations since 2017
46 Research Items
714 Citations
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
2017201820192020202120222023050100150200
Introduction
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
June 2011 - present
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Position
  • avalanche forecaster
Education
June 2016 - December 2020
University of Zurich
Field of study
August 2008 - July 2010
University of Berne
Field of study
  • Geography
August 2005 - July 2008
University of Fribourg
Field of study
  • Geography

Publications

Publications (91)
Article
Full-text available
Modeled snow stratigraphy and instability data are a promising source of information for avalanche forecasting. While instability indices describing the mechanical processes of dry-snow avalanche release have been implemented into snow cover models, there exists no readily applicable method that combines these metrics to predict snow instability. W...
Article
Full-text available
Even today, the assessment of avalanche danger is by and large a subjective yet data-based decision-making process. Human experts analyse heterogeneous data volumes , diverse in scale, and conclude on the avalanche scenario based on their experience. Nowadays, modern machine learning methods and the rise in computing power in combination with physi...
Article
Full-text available
Forecasting avalanche danger at a regional scale is a largely data-driven yet also experience-based decision-making process by human experts. In the case of public avalanche forecasts, this assessment process terminates in an expert judgment concerning summarizing avalanche conditions by using one of five danger levels. This strong simplification o...
Preprint
Full-text available
Modeled snow stratigraphy and instability data are a promising source of information for avalanche forecasting. While instability indices describing the mechanical processes of dry-snow avalanche release have been implemented into snow cover models, there exists no readily applicable method that combines these metrics to predict snow instability. W...
Preprint
Full-text available
Forecasting avalanche danger at a regional scale is a largely data-driven, yet also experience-based decision-making process. In the case of public avalanche forecasts, this process terminates in an expert judgment concerning summarizing avalanche conditions by using one of five danger levels. This strong simplification of the continuous, multi-dim...
Article
Full-text available
Effective and efficient communication of expected avalanche conditions and danger to the public is of great importance, especially where the primary audience of forecasts are recreational, non-expert users. In Europe, avalanche danger is communicated using a pyramid, starting with ordinal levels of avalanche danger and progressing through avalanche...
Preprint
Full-text available
Even today, the assessment of avalanche danger is by large a subjective, yet data-based decision-making process. Human experts analyze heterogeneous data volumes, diverse in scale, and conclude on the avalanche scenario based on their experience. Nowadays, modern machine learning methods and the rise in computing power in combination with physical...
Article
Full-text available
Avalanche danger levels are described in qualitative terms that mostly are not amenable to measurements or observations. However, estimating and improving forecast consistency and accuracy require descriptors that can be observed or measured. Therefore, we aim to characterize the avalanche danger levels based on expert field observations of snow in...
Conference Paper
Information on the occurrence and size of snow avalanches is important for the avalanche warning, decision making for the closure of traffic lines as well as for hazard mapping and the planning of mitigation measures. Today such information is limited to a small fraction of well- observed regions and time periods when visual observations are possib...
Preprint
Full-text available
Efficient communication in public avalanche forecasts is of great importance to clearly inform and warn the public about expected avalanche conditions. In Europe, avalanche danger is communicated using a pyramid, starting with ordinal categories of avalanche danger, and progressing through avalanche-prone locations and avalanche problems to a dange...
Article
Background The survival of completely buried victims in an avalanche mainly depends on burial duration. Knowledge is limited about survival probability after 60 min of complete burial. Aim We aimed to study the survival probability and prehospital characteristics of avalanche victims with long burial durations. Methods We retrospectively included...
Article
Full-text available
Rule-based decision frameworks are widely recommended to estimate the avalanche risk while planning a ski tour. However, these frameworks were developed relying primarily on accident data and usually did not consider backcountry travel data. Hence, they are not risk-based. Here, we address this gap and calculate the risk taken during backcountry to...
Article
Full-text available
The spatial distribution and size of avalanches are essential parameters for avalanche warning, avalanche documentation , mitigation measure design and hazard zonation. Despite its importance, this information is incomplete today and only available for limited areas and limited time periods. Manual avalanche mapping from satellite imagery has recen...
Preprint
Full-text available
Avalanche danger levels are described in qualitative terms that mostly are not amenable to measurements or observations. However, estimating and improving forecast consistency and accuracy requires descriptors that can be observed or measured. Therefore, we aim to characterize the avalanche danger levels based on expert field observations of snow i...
Article
Full-text available
Consistency in assigning an avalanche danger level when forecasting or locally assessing avalanche hazard is essential but challenging to achieve, as relevant information is often scarce and must be interpreted in light of uncertainties. Furthermore, the definitions of the danger levels, an ordinal variable, are vague and leave room for interpretat...
Preprint
Full-text available
The spatial distribution and size of avalanches are essential parameters for avalanche warning, avalanche documentation, mitigation measure design and hazard zonation. Despite its importance, this 10 information is incomplete today and only available for limited areas and limited time periods. Manual avalanche mapping from satellite imagery has rec...
Article
Full-text available
In public avalanche forecasts, avalanche danger is summarized using a five-level ordinal danger scale. However, in Switzerland-but also in other countries-on about 75% of the forecasting days, only two of the five danger levels are actually used, indicating a lack of refinement in the forecast danger level. A refined classification requires the for...
Article
Full-text available
Snow instability tests provide valuable information regarding the stability of the snowpack. Test results are key data used to prepare public avalanche forecasts. However, to include them into operational procedures, a quantitative interpretation scheme is needed. Whereas the interpretation of the rutschblock test (RB) is well established, a simila...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract. Snow instability tests provide valuable information regarding the stability of the snowpack. Test results are key data used to prepare public avalanche forecasts. However, to include them into the operational procedures, a quantitative interpretation scheme is needed. Whereas the interpretation of the Rutschblock test is well established,...
Article
Full-text available
In many countries with seasonally snow-covered mountain ranges warnings are issued to alert the public about imminent avalanche danger, mostly employing an ordinal, five-level danger scale. However, as avalanche danger cannot be measured, the characterization of avalanche danger remains qualitative. The probability of avalanche occurrence in combin...
Article
Full-text available
In many countries with seasonally snow-covered mountain ranges warnings are issued to alert the public about imminent avalanche danger, mostly employing an ordinal, five-level danger scale. However, as avalanche danger cannot be measured, the characterization of avalanche danger remains qualitative. The probability of avalanche occurrence in combin...
Preprint
Full-text available
Abstract. Consistency in assigning an avalanche danger level when forecasting or locally assessing avalanche hazard is essential, but challenging to achieve, as relevant information is often scarce and must be interpreted in the light of uncertainties. Furthermore, the definitions of the danger levels, an ordinal variable, are vague and leave room...
Article
Full-text available
Consistency in assigning an avalanche danger level when forecasting or locally assessing avalanche hazard is essential, but challenging to achieve, as relevant information is often scarce and must be interpreted in the light of uncertainties. Furthermore, the definitions of the danger levels, an ordinal variable, are vague and leave room for interp...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives More than 20 people die each year in snow avalanches in Switzerland. Previous studies have primarily described these victims, but were not population based. We investigated sociodemographic factors for avalanche mortality between 1995 and 2014 in the entire Swiss resident population. Design and methods Within the Swiss National Cohort w...
Article
Full-text available
The application of numerical modelling of the snowpack in support of avalanche hazard prediction is increasing. Modelling, in complement to direct observations and weather forecasting, provides information otherwise unavailable on the present and future state of the snowpack and its mechanical stability. However, there is often a perceived mismatch...
Preprint
Full-text available
In many countries with seasonally snow-covered mountain ranges warnings are issued to alert the public about imminent avalanche danger, mostly employing a 5-level danger scale. However, as avalanche danger cannot be measured, the charac-terization of avalanche danger remains qualitative. The probability of avalanche occurrence in combination with t...
Book
Full-text available
Dieser Bericht gibt einen Überblick über die Wetter-, Schnee- und Lawinensituation, analysiert die Schäden und die getroffenen Massnahmen der Lawinensituation im Januar 2018 und zeigt eine Bilanz, ob sich die Massnahmen seit 1999 bewährt haben.
Article
Full-text available
Zu jeder guten Skitour gehören drei Dinge: gut gewachselte Skier, eine gute Tourenplanung und eine reichliche Brotzeit oder besser gesagt Jausen-nein, Znüni oder doch eher Marend? Man merkt schon, kaum wechselt man von Bayern über Tirol nach Graubünden oder Südtirol, bekommt der doch so wichtige Proviant einen ande-ren Namen. Bedeutet es dann aber...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Today, most avalanche accidents occur during recreational activities away from avalanche-secured areas (Techel et al., 2016). Avalanche conditions and the number of people exposed to the hazard influence the number of avalanche accidents (Techel et al., 2015). Avalanche warnings should therefore reach the target audience particularly when critical...
Article
Full-text available
In the European Alps, the public is provided with regional avalanche forecasts, issued by about 30 forecast centers throughout the winter, covering a spatially contiguous area. A key element in these forecasts is the communication of avalanche danger according to the five-level, ordinal European avalanche danger scale (EADS). Consistency in the app...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Consistency in the way avalanche hazard is communicated in avalanche forecasts is essential to avoid misinterpretations by users utilizing bulletins issued by different warning services, for example , when backcountry recreationists travel across national or regional borders. Comparing avalanche forecast products in the European Alps, we note diffe...
Article
We present physics‐based snowpack simulations for four snow seasons with detailed wet snow avalanche activity records. The distributed, spatially explicit simulations using the Alpine3D and SNOWPACK model show that the simulated snowpack in the release areas of documented wet snow avalanches often exhibits its first wetting of the season on the rel...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
pour le congrès de médecine de montagne du GRIMM, Janvier 2018 à Champéry Accidents d'avalanche en Suisse : statistiques de survie des 20 dernières années Abstract « Y'a-t-il de plus en plus de victimes d'avalanche ? Ou bien leur nombre at -il diminué ces dernières années ? » Les médias et le public ne sont pas les seuls à vouloir connaître l'évolu...
Article
Full-text available
Schon wieder: Lawine reißt Tourenfahrer in den Tod!“ Solche Schlagzeilen lesen wir jeden Winter. Sind Skitouren wirklich so gefährlich? Oder liegt alles nur daran, dass Lawinenunfälle mit Naturgewalt, Drama und Tod genau den Stoff bieten, aus dem Schlagzeilen gemacht sind? Neue Daten zeigen nun, dass Skitouren eher gefährlicher sind als Autofahren....
Article
Full-text available
Operational verification of regional avalanche forecasts strongly relies on high quality field observations. In addition, specifically trained and experienced observers may provide local danger level estimates – a condensed, but subjective summary of current avalanche conditions. However, these estimates not only reflect local rather than regional...
Article
Full-text available
Grüne Weihnachten werden häufiger. Viele Orte in den Schweizer Alpen verzeichneten den schneeärmsten Dezember seit Messbeginn vor rund 150 Jahren. 2016 war ausserdem das dritte Jahr nacheinander, in dem in den Skigebieten über Weihnachten kaum (natürlicher) Schnee lag. Was heisst das für die Lawinenunfälle? Bekanntlich besagt eine Bauernregel, weni...
Article
Full-text available
A database of fatalities caused by natural hazard processes in Switzerland was compiled for the period between 1946 and 2015. Using information from the Swiss flood and landslide damage database and the Swiss destructive avalanche database, the data set was extended back in time and more hazard processes were added by conducting an in-depth search...
Article
Aims: This retrospective study investigated the epidemiology of summer avalanche accidents that occurred in Switzerland and caused at least one fatality between 1984 and 2014. Summer avalanche accidents were defined as those that occurred between June 1st and October 31st. Results: Summer avalanches caused 21 (4%) of the 482 avalanches with at l...
Chapter
Full-text available
«Gibt es immer mehr Lawinenopfer? Oder haben die Opferzahlen in den letzten Jahren abgenommen?» Nicht nur die Medien oder die Öffentlichkeit möchten wissen, wie sich die Lawinenopferzahlen in letzter Zeit entwickelt haben. Auch Organisationen, die sich mit Lawinenprävention oder Unfallverhütung befassen, stellen solche Fragen. Beantworten lassen si...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Forecasters in many public avalanche forecast operations rely on field observations and danger (or stability) assessments by experienced and well-trained observers. However, available field observations are often sparse, represent local conditions and may even be contradictory. We addressed these issues by comparing the local danger level estimates...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
SnopViz " is primarily a visualization tool for both observed snow profiles (CAAML V5.0 Snow Profile IACS) and simulation output of the snow-cover model SNOWPACK. The JavaScript application runs on any modern browser and does not require an active Internet connection. The latest release is available for download from models.slf.ch and examples can...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Avalanches are the major cause of accidental death while recreating in the mountains during winter. Up to now the calculation of the statistical risk of death was difficult, mostly due to the lack of reliable data concerning touring activity. However, between 1999 and 2013 three surveys on the type and frequency of sports activities were conducted...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Information on snow stability is key information when assessing the avalanche situation. However, stability tests like the Extended Column Test (ECT) or the Rutschblock test (RB) are point observations limited to small areas of the snowpack. Spatial variability of the snowpack may be considerable and thus test interpretation challenging. After 9 ye...
Article
Full-text available
A database of fatalities caused by natural hazard processes in Switzerland was compiled for the period between 1946 and 2015. Using information from the Swiss flood and landslide database and the Swiss destructive avalanche database, the data set was extended back in time and more hazard processes were added by conducting an in-depth search of news...
Article
Full-text available
Avalanche accidents, particularly those resulting in fatalities, attract substantial attention from policy makers and organizations, as well as from the media and the public. Placing fatal accidents in a wider context requires long-term and robust statistics. However, avalanche accident statistics, like most other accident statistics, often rely on...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Avalanches are the primary hazard for winter backcountry recreationists and cause numerous deaths and injuries annually. Although recreationists usually travel in groups, there is little empirical knowledge on group-related risk factors. This study aims to explore the relative risk of avalanche accidents with respect to group size and t...
Article
Full-text available
Recreational activities in snow-covered mountainous terrain in the backcountry account for the vast majority of avalanche accidents. Studies analyzing avalanche risk mostly rely on accident statistics without considering exposure (or the elements at risk), i.e., how many, when and where people are recreating, as data on recreational activity in the...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Here we investigate avalanche accidents involving people along transportation corridors (road or railroad) in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, and Italy. 408 avalanches involving 1257 people have been examined in the period from 1900 to 2014. Of these, 123 avalanches resulted in 382 fatalities. Three quarters of the accidents involved users,...