How and why do avalanches “release” and how can an improved understanding improve backcountry safety? Dr. Karl Birkeland, Director of the Forest Service’s National Avalanche Center, will discuss the science of risky snowpack and how research can improve backcountry safety in the third presentation of the Winter/Spring Science Inquiry Series.
The talk will be presented at the Museum of the Rockies at 600 W Kagy Blvd in Bozeman, Montana on Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 7 p.m. in the museum’s Hager Auditorium.
The series, sponsored by the Gallatin Valley Friends of the Sciences, explores cutting edge science topics, their latest developments, and their relevance to society through speaker presentations followed by conversations between speaker and audience. The talks are free to the public.
In his presentation, entitled “Dangerous Snow: Understanding How Avalanches Release So You Can Be Safer in the Backcountry,” Birkeland will offer the results of several decades of research on when snowpack conditions become avalanche prone, and how better understanding of avalanches can improve safety for those involved in winter activities.
Dr. Birkeland holds degrees in environmental biology, earth sciences, and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona. He has worked with snow and avalanches for more than 35 years, including work as a professional ski patroller, backcountry avalanche forecaster, and avalanche researcher. He founded the Gallatin Forest Avalanche Center in 1990 and co-founded the National Avalanche Center in 1999, becoming its director in 2011. He’s also involved in technology transfer projects between the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research and U.S. avalanche centers.
The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for audience members to engage in conversation with Birkeland in the museum lobby with light refreshments served.
The speaker presentation and audience participation segments together will last approximately an hour.