outdoor

Episode 09 with James Floyer

Episode 09 with James Floyer 900 450 Nowhere Podcast

James Floyer, the Program Director and Senior Avalanche Forecaster of Avalanche Canada, joins us for this episode. Avalanche Canada is a non-government non-profit that focuses on avalanche safety for individuals in the backcountry.

Avalanches can happen anywhere there is steep terrain and significant snowfall. There are also a few different types, with loose snow and slab avalanches being the most dangerous. Because there is a lack of infrastructure, those most at risk to avalanches are people in the backcountry.

The MIN, or Mountain Information Network, is an observation system used by Avalanche Canada to assess risk. Individual users can submit information to this network, as it was created in response to recognition of an untapped resource for safety: the public.

Avalanche Canada puts out the call for public user support early in the season, and generally the response is quite strong. People feel called to step up to the plate and submit data, and looking at this data is where avalanche analysis and safety really begins.

Avalanche Canada also has six field teams, five of which are located in Western Canada. They go out about four times a week into data-sparse areas to gather information about snowpacks and make observations of conditions to feed back into the forecast center. They also demonstrate best-practices to the public to help keep everyone in the backcountry safe.

Listen to the episode here:

Episode 06 with Joshua Johnston

Episode 06 with Joshua Johnston 900 450 Nowhere Podcast

Joining us in this episode is Dr. Josh Johnston. He is the Principal Investigator for the WildFireSat mission, and a career wildland firefighter. Why is managing fire important? The truth is that fire isn’t always a bad thing. The fire is a natural means of keeping the forest healthy and actually plays a large role in stimulating new growth.

That said, getting too close to the fire or having too much of it can be dangerous. Sometimes fire management is about suppression, sometimes fires need to be started, and sometimes they simply need to be left alone. In instances where people are around, the objective is to put them out as fast as possible.

The WildFireSat is the world’s first purpose-built fire monitoring mission via satellite. Prior to this, the science revolved around general purpose missions. This one is specifically for fire management, and it’s a uniquely Canadian endeavor. This allows for effective tracking of fires, which will play an even more important role as the world experiences climate change.

While imagery is nice to have, analysis and a breakdown of what a fire is doing—and what it is likely to do next—is more important than the visual asset. These analytics will be embedded in forthcoming products. This technology collects information regarding the landscape and classifies the threat of the fire. Decision makers who have to make a choice based upon this data will benefit the most from interpreting this data.

Listen to the episode here:

Episode 02 with Maggie Cawley

Episode 02 with Maggie Cawley 900 450 Nowhere Podcast

Maggie Cawley joins as a guest in this episode. Maggie is the Executive Director for OpenStreetMap, a nonprofit collaborative project to create an editable geographic database of the world. Anyone with an email address can edit this map. The goal is to try and build the best, most comprehensive map of the world.

OpenStreetMap has become a resource for people all over the world for analysis, to inform decision making, and allowing local participants to show the important features of where they live. Over 20,000 companies like Craigslist, Amazon, and Uber use OpenStreetMap.

About a year before recording this podcast episode, Maggie was contacted by park rangers concerned about the use and overuse of specific paths that were being perceived as trails based on information provided by OpenStreetMap. She used this opportunity to start a wider discussion on bringing awareness to this issue.

Maggie now has a working group with land managers, mappers, outdoor enthusiasts, and soil experts who are volunteering their time to work together and find a solution. This situation has highlighted the emphasis for adding the necessary metadata—for example, not just that there is a trail, but the features of the trail. As they work towards a solution, Maggie hopes educational resources will be available moving forward.

Listen to the episode here:

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