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The Ski Resorts Who Cried Wolf: Swedish Historical Public Avalanche Information and the Impact of Different Generations of Danger Scales
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Mining and Geotechnical Engineering.
2013 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Are Swedes overrepresented in avalanche accidents due to inflation in public avalanche danger? According to preliminary statistics the Swedish skiers are overrepresented as nationality in avalanche accidents in the Alps. A Swedish skier is almost 40 times more likely to die in an avalanche in the Alps than at home in Sweden. What lies behind this phenomenon? Do the Swedes take greater risks than other nationalities? The author presents a hypothesis that the Swedes accident statistics might be traced back to a disturbance in risk understanding due to faulty public avalanche danger rat- ings. In the mid 90's, the first generation avalanche danger scale was introduced and used in Sweden. Unfortunately it contained large errors, and was based solely on weather conditions. Weather as the only criteria led to danger levels rarely below 3 during a winter regardless of actual avalanche danger. This made the Swedish skiers accustomed to a false high avalanche danger for nearly ten years. The author's hypothesis is that this danger inflation has caused that Swedes to have an offset scale per- ception and therefore more often than other nationalities suffer from avalanche accidents. The paper shows how the published avalanche danger ratings at a couple of larger ski resorts in Sweden are correlated to how the danger scale in use is formulated in two generations of scale design. The author presents an explanation of the importance of correct avalanche information to create an accurate un- derstanding of danger in the population. It also presents theories of how collective risk understanding affect risk behaviour.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Research subject
Soil Mechanics
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-32774Local ID: 75d90a76-9043-41c1-9f5d-4229e35a14ffOAI: diva2:1006008
Nordisk konferanse om snøskred og friluftsliv : 01/11/2013 - 03/11/2013
Godkänd; 2013; 20141111 (stemar)Available from: 2016-09-30 Created: 2016-09-30Bibliographically approved

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Mårtensson, Stefan
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Mining and Geotechnical Engineering

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