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During winter 1999 three large avalanche events were triggered by explosives at SLF’s avalanche test site, Vallée de la Sionne, canton Valais, Switzerland. One important goal of these large-scale field experiments was to measure the release and deposition volumes of avalanches by photogrammetric methods. In this paper, the photogrammetric measurements of all three avalanches are summarized. For one avalanche event it was possible to realize the whole measuring procedure as planned, and to obtain volume measurements before and after the avalanche triggering In the other two avalanche events, the photographs before the triggering of the avalanche failed. Nevertheless the photographs taken after the avalanche provide valuable information on the fracture depth at the fracture line. The mean fracture depth of the largest avalanche was about 2.10 m, varying between 1 and 3.5 m over a width of > 1000 m. The total volume of the deposition of all three avalanche events was about 1300 000 m3. The deposits are distributed over a length of > 1000 m with depths up to 30 m. The difference between the released and deposited volumes proved that avalanches entrain a large amount of snow along the avalanche track. Furthermore, the snow distribution in the deposition zone provides important information about the behaviour of a dense flowing avalanche in the runout zone.
In Switzerland three large snowfall periods led to numerous large avalanche events, causing the deaths of 17 people, damage to about 1000 buildings and blockage of many important traffic systems. This situation was a valuable test of the avalanche-hazard mapping procedure developed in Switzerland since the last extreme avalanche winter in 1951. In most cases, the avalanches stopped within the avalanche-hazard zones. However, approximately 40 of about 1200 large avalanche events passed the limits of the existing hazard zones. The primary deficiency was underestimation of the hazard of powder-snow avalanches. The other reason the hazard-zone boundaries were passed was multiple avalanche events in a single track within a short time period. In addition, some fracture depths were larger than those used in avalanche-dynamics calculations. Therefore, the guideline assumptions for defining the fracture depths are questioned. Winter 1999 impressively underlined the danger of avalanches in mountainous regions. It emphasized the importance of avalanche-hazard mapping, showed the existing deficiencies and provided a large amount of field data that will help to improve our knowledge of avalanche dynamics.
Daily weather measurements, snow stability assessments and recorded weak layers of 23 stations covering an observation area of approximately 40 000 km2 in western Canada were analyzed. The study area includes three major mountain ranges with different snow climates. All stations included assess the stability of the snow cover. However, the focus of the avalanche safety program of the different types of operation (heli-ski operation, ski resorts and parks) varies significantly. The three stations in the Coast Mountains show the highest snow stability, followed by the South Columbia Mountains and then the North Columbia and Rocky Mountains. The weather data were analyzed to try to explain some of these differences. Intensive snowfall at relatively high temperatures proved to be important for the higher snow stability over the season in the Coast Mountains. Theweak-layer data were used to complement the snow stability assessments. Most persistent weak layers were reported in the Columbia Mountains, followed by the three stations in the Coast Mountains and trailed by the Rocky Mountains. Although some weather observations indicate climatic reasons for the smaller number of weak layers in the Rocky Mountains, it cannot be excluded that these differences are also related to the different type of operations.
The assessment of driving-relevant cognitive functions in older drivers is a difficult challenge as there is no clear-cut dividing line between normal cognition and impaired cognition and not all cognitive functions are equally important for driving.
To support decision makers, the Bern Cognitive Screening Test (BCST) for older drivers was designed. It is a computer-assisted test battery assessing visuo-spatial attention, executive functions, eye–hand coordination, distance judgment, and speed regulation. Here we compare the performance in BCST with the performance in paper and pencil cognitive screening tests and the performance in the driving simulator testing of 41 safe drivers (without crash history) and 14 unsafe drivers (with crash history).
Safe drivers performed better than unsafe drivers in BCST (Mann–Whitney U test: U = 125.5; p = 0.001) and in the driving simulator (Student's t-test: t(44) = –2.64, p = 0.006). No clear group differences were found in paper and pencil screening tests (p > 0.05; ns). BCST was best at identifying older unsafe drivers (sensitivity 86%; specificity 61%) and was also better tolerated than the driving simulator test with fewer dropouts.
BCST is more accurate than paper and pencil screening tests, and better tolerated than driving simulator testing when assessing driving-relevant cognition in older drivers.
A generalized correlated random walk is a process of partial sums such that (X, Y) forms a Markov chain. For a sequence (Xn) of such processes in which each takes only two values, we prove weak convergence to a diffusion process whose generator is explicitly described in terms of the limiting behaviour of the transition probabilities for the Yn. Applications include asymptotics of option replication under transaction costs and approximation of a given diffusion by regular recombining binomial trees.
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