Snow and Avalanche Center Avalanche News - 2004

Avalanche Safety Focus of New Research Chair in Calgary

CALGARY, Nov. 23 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Anne McLellan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, on behalf of the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry, today announced federal funding of $673,700 over five years for the NSERC Research Chair in Snow Avalanche Risk Control at the University of Calgary.

"I am pleased to see the University of Calgary at the forefront of R&D that will ultimately reduce injuries and fatalities caused by avalanches," said Minister McLellan. "By developing better tools to assess and predict avalanche risk, we are helping to make Canadians' backcountry experiences safer and more enjoyable."

"This is an excellent example of industry and academic partners collaborating to develop new and innovative tools and processes that can benefit all Canadians," said Minister Emerson. "Our government remains committed to supporting advanced research and development aimed at improving our quality of life."

The funding is provided through an NSERC program that promotes research partnerships between the private sector and universities. The Canadian Avalanche Association, Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, the Canada West Ski Area Association and the B.C. Helicopter and Snowcat Skiing Operators Association are contributing a total of $592,100 in cash and $200,000 in kind over five years. Parks Canada (Glacier National Park) also provides almost daily advice, data and in-kind support to the Chair's research program. The new chairholder, Dr. Bruce Jamieson, is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Calgary, a new position focused on avalanche research. He is well known for his research on properties of weak snowpacks, failure planes, snow slab stability and avalanche forecasting.

"I'm very pleased to be continuing my work with such supportive and forward-thinking partners," said Dr. Jamieson. "The financial backing and the interaction with avalanche professionals will enable important research into risk control measures and the training of new researchers. Dr. Jamieson's strong working relationship with his industrial partners as well as his ability to communicate research results to a variety of audiences make him the ideal person to undertake this research program," said Dr. Brzustowski, President of NSERC. "During the next five years, he will contribute to the training of highly needed and qualified personnel who will advance avalanche forecasting and snow science."

The Canadian Avalanche Association is Canada's national avalanche safety organization representing over 700 members. The Canada West Ski Areas Association represents 22 areas/resorts in western Canada with avalanche safety programs. The B.C. Helicopter and Snowcat Skiing Operators Association represents 29 member companies. Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing employs approximately 180 persons in its helicopter and resort operations. Together, these organizations support this practical research program in order to improve their operations and ability to forecast snow avalanches in order to make the mountains safer to all recreationists.

Science and Engineering Research Canada (more commonly known as NSERC) is a key federal agency investing in people, discovery and innovation. It supports both basic university research through research grants, and project research through partnerships among post-secondary institutions, government and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people.

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