Mountain landscapes are dynamic systems, and life in the mountains is inherently exposed to a wide range of natural hazards, including landslides, mudslides, volcanoes, avalanches, earthquakes, wildfires and flooding. These hazards affect all Canadians, whether they live in mountains or not, and produce large, unpredictable, cascading effects downslope and downstream, disrupting industry, farming, supply chains and livelihoods. Furthermore, our economy is intrinsically linked to many important industries and critical infrastructures that are located in and around mountains. Our well-being is therefore dependant on effectively managing and mitigating the risks associated with mountain hazards.
This episode of the Canadian Mountain Podcast focuses on the Mountain Risk Knowledge Exchange, which was designed to integrate citizen and community science into monitoring mountain hazards. This new community-based approach is harnessing Indigenous and non-Indigenous local knowledge and building risk management capacity and resilience in mountain communities.
This podcast episode features Principal Investigator Dr. Glyn Williams-Jones from Simon Fraser University, who is leading the Mountain Risk Knowledge Exchange. The second guest is Juan Anzieta, a PhD student from Simon Fraser University who works alongside Williams-Jones on the project.
Listen to the podcast here!
They discuss their work in developing an open-access portal, where knowledge is co-produced with contributions from citizen scientists, some of which have gathered local knowledge through generations of observations. Users can also learn from the portal, which is a one-stop-shop of information, data and knowledge related to mountain hazards.
Williams-Jones and Anzieta emphasize the importance of understanding how these events happen and when they occur to improve communication, better prepare communities, mitigate risks, reduce their impact and better support people when they are displaced. Climate change and other environmental threats have the potential to substantially alter the magnitude and frequency of many mountain hazards and affect Canadians in unprecedented ways.
Many alpine nations from around the world have robust and well-developed risk monitoring systems in their mountains. Canada, however, is lagging behind other nations in many respects when it comes to monitoring these mountainous regions. The Mountain Risk Knowledge Exchange is addressing this gap by creating a central data warehouse for interactive situation analysis and decision support needed to host and process mountain hazard information accessible to all Canadians. A user-friendly mobile application will also be developed for citizen science and community contributions.
Learn about how Indigenous groups are getting involved in this project, and how the wealth of information from oral traditions is helping understand the history behind these events to better target areas of research.
In fact, thanks to a research partnership with the Squamish Nation, a small seismometer called a “Rasberry Shake” will be installed in their totem pole to monitor a mountain in Squamish!