Public Release: 

EARTH: Slipping point -- snow scientists dig in to decipher avalanche triggers

American Geosciences Institute

Alexandria, VA - As skiers hit the slopes this winter, EARTH Magazine explores the science of how to keep them and other winter explorers safe. Every year, hundreds of people are killed by avalanches. Understanding the science of the frozen environment is only part of this story; communicating the risk is a field as dynamic as the weather systems and terrains that foster avalanches.

The story of avalanche science starts in the decades after World War II with troops trained to work in snowy mountains and the earliest extreme skiers of the 1970s and 1980s forming the foundation of the community. Today, geoscientists venture out daily to observe the conditions and study the fragility of the snow pack with high-tech instruments, but many also work indoors in sophisticated laboratories that recreate wintery conditions to zero-in on the culprits that make snowy slopes so dangerous. Explore the field of snow science in the March issue of EARTH Magazine: http://bit.ly/1TAqNjJ.

EARTH captures the breakthroughs in geoscience and brings you the science behind the headlines. In the March 2016 issue you will find stories such as "Slipping Point," and other unique features like how you too can become an "Urban Geologist," but also exciting stories such as how fluids preserved in volcanic glasses collected from the moon inform our understanding of it, and the challenge coupled double earthquakes present to geoscientists trying to predict tsunamis. All this and more in EARTH Magazine.

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Keep up to date with the latest happenings in Earth, energy and environment news with EARTH Magazine online at: http://www.earthmagazine.org/. Published by the American Geosciences Institute, EARTH is your source for the science behind the headlines.

The American Geosciences Institute is a nonprofit federation of geoscientific and professional associations that represents more than 250,000 geologists, geophysicists and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of shared interests in the profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources, resiliency to natural hazards, and interaction with the environment.

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