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Disputation: Holt John Hancock

Doctoral candidate Holt John Hancock at the Department of Geosciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, is defending the thesis Snow avalanche controls, monitoring strategies, and hazard management in Svalbard for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

Photo of Holt John Hancock. Photo: Private

Holt John Hancock. Photo: Private

The PhD defence and trial lecture are fully digital and streamed using Zoom. The host of the session will moderate the technicalities while the chair of the defence will moderate the disputation.

Ex auditorio questions: the chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. This can be requested by clicking 'Participants -> Raise hand'. 

Trial lecture

Snow surface energy balance: effects on snow metamorphism and snowmelt

Conferral summary (In Norwegian)

Avhandlingen handler om snøforhold og snøskredprosesser på Svalbard, og implikasjoner for skredfarevurderinger i arktisk miljø. Forskningen inkluderer: 1) forbedret bruk og videreutvikling av terrestrisk laserskanning som en metode for kvantifisering av hvordan værforhold styrer skredaktivitet, og 2) en undersøkelse av hvordan meteorologiske forhold over et større område påvirker skredaktivitet på Svalbard. Resultatene fra dette prosjektet bidrar til økt tilgjengelig informasjon for fremtidig skredforskning, skredsikring, og skredvarsling på Svalbard og andre områder i Arktis.

Snow avalanche controls, monitoring strategies, and hazard management in Svalbard

Popular scientific article about Hancock ’s dissertation:

Snow avalanches present a common natural hazard in snow-covered mountainous areas throughout the world. However, most snow avalanche research has taken place in mid-latitude locations, thereby limiting knowledge of avalanche processes in polar regions. Highlighting the need for better avalanche knowledge and improved hazard management in high-latitude settings, an avalanche struck Longyearbyen, Svalbard in December 2015, destroying 11 houses and killing two residents in their homes.

This thesis therefore investigates snow avalanche processes across a range of spatial and temporal scales in Svalbard and places the results in the context of improved hazard management strategies in this location. Primary contributions from this research include: 1) employing and further developing terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) techniques to illustrate and quantify how specific meteorological conditions control snow distribution and avalanche activity at the slope and catchment spatial scales near Longyearbyen, and 2) investigating the broader-scale meteorological controls on avalanche activity in Svalbard’s rapidly changing climate.

Results from this work help refine our understanding of how snow and wind associated with winter storms serve as key controls on snow avalanches in Spitsbergen and can help inform future avalanche research and hazard management strategies here and in other high-latitude locations.

Photo and other information:

Press photo: Holt Hancock, portrait; 650px. Photo: Private

Published Sep. 1, 2021 3:23 PM - Last modified Oct. 4, 2021 1:00 PM