Journal metrics

Journal metrics

  • IF value: 2.281 IF 2.281
  • IF 5-year value: 2.693 IF 5-year 2.693
  • CiteScore value: 2.43 CiteScore 2.43
  • SNIP value: 1.193 SNIP 1.193
  • SJR value: 0.965 SJR 0.965
  • IPP value: 2.31 IPP 2.31
  • h5-index value: 40 h5-index 40
  • Scimago H index value: 73 Scimago H index 73
Volume 18, issue 9 | Copyright
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 18, 2537-2559, 2018
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-18-2537-2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Sep 2018

Research article | 20 Sep 2018

Communicating public avalanche warnings – what works?

Rune V. Engeset1,2,3, Gerit Pfuhl4, Markus Landrø2,3,4, Andrea Mannberg3,5, and Audun Hetland3,4 Rune V. Engeset et al.
  • 1School of Sport Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Postboks 6050, Langnes, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  • 2Section for Glaciers, Ice and Snow, Hydrology Department, Norwegian Water and Energy Directorate, Postboks 5091, Majorstua, 0301 Oslo, Norway
  • 3Centre for Avalanche Research and Education, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Postboks 6050, Langnes, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  • 4Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Postboks 6050, Langnes, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  • 5School of Business and Economics, UiT the Arctic University of Norway, Breivangvegen 23, 9010 Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. Like many other mountainous countries, Norway has experienced a rapid increase in both recreational winter activities and fatalities in avalanche terrain during the past few decades: during the decade 2008–2017, 64 recreational avalanche fatalities were recorded in Norway. This is a 106% increase from that of the previous decade. In 2013, Norway therefore launched the National Avalanche Warning Service (NAWS), which provides avalanche warnings to transport and preparedness authorities and to the public. Previous studies suggest that avalanche warnings are used extensively in trip and preparedness planning and have a relatively strong influence on the decisions people make in order to reduce risk. However, no evaluation concerning how efficiently the warnings are communicated and understood has been done to date in Norway. Avalanche warnings communicate complex natural phenomena with a variable complexity and level of uncertainty about both the future and the present. In order to manage avalanche risk successfully, it is fundamental that the warning message can be understood and translated into practice by a wide range of different user groups. Users with little or no avalanche competence may need simple information to decide when to stay away from avalanche terrain, while professional users may need advanced technical details in order to make their decisions. To evaluate how different modes of communication are understood, and how efficiently the informational content is communicated, we designed and implemented a web-based user survey. The modes of presentation were based on the Varsom.no 2017 version (Varsom.no being the national portal for natural hazard warnings in Norway). We first used a panel of 110 experts from NAWS to answer the survey, and used their answers to establish the indented message of the avalanche warning. We thereafter received responses from 264 users and compared their answers to those of the NAWS experts for the different modes of communication. We developed a method, the comprehension effectiveness score, to test the comprehension. Our empirical analyses suggest that most users find the warning service to be useful and well suited to their needs. However, the effectiveness of a warnings seems to be influenced by the competency of the user and the complexity of the scenarios. We discuss the findings and make recommendations on how to improve communication of avalanche warnings.

Download & links
Publications Copernicus
Download
Short summary
The Norwegian Avalanche Warning Service was launched in 2013 to stop the increase in avalanche fatalities. We studied how efficiently warnings communicate the hazard on Varsom.no: which risk factors are difficult to assess and manage? Which elements in the warning are (not) important? Which elements are easily misunderstood? Which information/features are missing/ignored by users? We developed a communication effectiveness score for testing this using an online survey.
The Norwegian Avalanche Warning Service was launched in 2013 to stop the increase in avalanche...
Citation
Share