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Prof. Dr. Jakob Rhyner



Tel .: + 49-228-815-0201



Prof. Rhyner joined the United Nations University in 2010. He holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich (part of his PhD was done in 1986 during a stay at the L.D. Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics in Moscow, former Soviet Union). He is a professor at the Agricultural Faculty of the University of Bonn.

Starting 1988, he spent 13 years in industrial research (ABB Ltd). Among his main research topics were the application of superconductivity in electric networks and high voltage technologies for energy transmission.

The time at ABB was interrupted by a one year stay at the Department of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with research on superconductivity and quantum mechanics of mesoscopic systems, and by stays in an ABB factory in Sweden as a consulting engineer.

In 2001, he joined the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) Davos, belonging to the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL), which itself is a part of the ETH domain. At SLF, he was the head of the Division Avalanche Warning and Risk Management, responsible for the Swiss avalanche warning system, including forecast, measurement networks, education and training, process research and the development of risk management methodologies. Since 2005 he initiated the extension of the avalanche forecast and warning systems to alpine hydrological hazards. From 2006 he was the Head of SLF, and simultaneously a member of the Directorate of WSL.

He has been active in numerous professional organizations and boards, such as the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Swiss Expert Commission for Avalanches and Rockfall, the Group of European Avalanche Warning Systems or the German Committee for Disaster Reduction. In the FP research programmes of the European Commission he was active as a project coordinator and in programme evaluation committees. He is a member of the Transition Team for the Decade Initiative “Future Earth – Research for Global Sustainability”.

Working Area at UNU-EHS

Professor Rhyner is Director of the Institute as well as Vice Rector in Europe of the United Nations University.


Peer-reviewed journal articles

A. Badoux ,2 , Ch. Graf, J. Rhyner, R. Kuntner, B. W.McArdell , A Debris-Flow Alarm System for the Alpine Illgraben Catchment: Design and Performance”, Natural Hazards 49:517–539 (2009) .

H. Romang, M. Zappa, N. Hilker, M. Gerber, F. Dufour, V. Frede, D. Bérod, M. Oplatka, Ch. Hegg, J. Rhyner, „IFKIS-Hydro – Early Warning an Information System for Floods and Debris Flows“, submitted to Natural Hazards (2008).

Ch. M. Rheinberger, M. Bründl, J. Rhyner, „Dealing with the White Death: Avalanche Risk Man-agement for Traffic Routes“, Risk Analysis, DOI: 10.111/j.1539-6924.2008.01127.x (2008). Best Paper Award.

M. Bründl, H.-J. Etter, M. Steiniger, Ch. Klingler, J. Rhyner, W.J. Ammann, „IFKIS - a basis for managing avalanche risk in settlements and on roads in Switzerland”, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 4,  309-313 (2004).

J. Rhyner: "Vector potential theory of ac losses in superconductors”, Physica C 377/1-2, 56-66 (2002).

D. Politano, M. Sjöström, G. Schnyder, J. Rhyner, “Technical and Economical Assessment of HTS Cables”, APS 2000 Conference, Virginia Beach, September 2000, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond. 11, 2477-2480 (2001).

W. Paul, M. Chen, M. Lakner, J. Rhyner, D. Braun, and W. Lanz: "Fault current limiter based on high temperature superconductors – different concepts, test results, simulations, and applica-tions”, Physica C 354, 27-33 (2001).

J. Rhyner, “Ac Loss Calculation in HTSC Tapes with Arbitrary Current Voltage Characteris-tics”, Physica C 310, 42-47 (1998).

Non-reviewed publications

R. Welle, J. Birkmann, J. Rhyner, M. Witting, and J. Wolfertz. World Risk Report 2012: Concept, updating and results. In: World Risk Report 2012. Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft: Berlin. pp 11-18 (2012).

A. Badoux, M. Schatzmann, M. Oplatka, M. Zappa, S. Jaun, M. Gerber, M. Boesch, G.R. Bezzola, M. Gross, P. Steiner, C. Hegg, J. Rhyner. IFKIS-Hydro Sihl: Beratung, Alarmorganisation und Handlungsmöglichkeiten während dem Bau der Durchmesserlinie beim Hauptbahnhof Zürich. WEL.

M. Zappa, S. Jaun, N. Addor, A. Badoux, J. Schwanbeck, I. Roeser, A. Walser, D. Viviroli, S. Vogt, J. Trösch, R. Weingartner, M. Oplatka, J. Rhyner. IFKIS-Hydro Sihl: Ein operationelles Hochwasser¬vorhersage¬system für die Stadt Zürich und das Sihltal. Wasser Energie Luft (in preparation 2010).

J. Rhyner, „Wetter- und Naturgefahrenwarnungen in der Schweiz“, FAN-Agenda 1/2007 (April 2007)

H. Romang, M. Gerber, Ch. Hegg, N. Hilker, F. Dufour, J. Rhyner, „IFKIS-Hydro – Informations- und Warnsystem für hydrologische Naturgefahren“, Wasser Energie Luft, 2007, 99. Jahrgang, Heft 2, p. 129-132.

Ch. Graf, A. Badoux, F. Dufour, B. Fritschi, B.W. McArdell, J. Rhyner, R. Kuntner, Ph. Teysseire, U. Nigg, „Alarmsystem für murgangfähige Wildbäche – Beispiel Illgraben“, Wasser Energie Luft, 2007, 99. Jahrgang, Heft 2, p. 119-128.

 J. Schweizer, J. Rhyner, W. Ammann, M. Bergamin, „Naturgefahren – Risiko für die Gemeindebehörden?“, Schweizer Gemeinde, 7/08/05, 2005.

Book chapters

J. Rhyner, “Partnerships in Promoting Human Security in Africa: The Case of United Nations Uni-versity. Education and Capacity Building” in “Human Security in Africa Through Partnerships and Cooperation” (Eds. Olusegun Obasanjo, Akin Mabogunje, and Peter Okebukola). Published by Center for Human Security, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Nigeria, 2012. ISBN: 978-978-906-193-8.

J. Rhyner, Th. Bürgi, P. Rauh, D. Murer, “GIN – Gemeinsame Informationsplattform Naturgefahren”, In „Warnung bei aussergewöhnlichen Naturereignissen" (Eds. Ch. Hegg and J. Rhyner), WSL Forum für Wissen, Zürich, 30 Oktober 2007, p. 91-92. ISSN 1021-2256

H. Romang, M. Zappa, Ch. Hegg, and J. Rhyner, “IFKIS-Hydro”, In „Warnung bei aussergewöhnlichen Naturereignissen" (Eds. Ch. Hegg and J. Rhyner), WSL Forum für Wissen, Zürich, 30 Oktober 2007, p. 75-78. ISSN 1021-2256

J. Rhyner, “Lawinenwarnung Schweiz – Komponenten eines bewährten Warnsystems”, In „Warnung bei aussergewöhnlichen Naturereignissen" (Eds. Ch. Hegg and J. Rhyner), WSL Forum für Wissen, Zürich, 30 Oktober 2007, p. 11-18. ISSN 1021-2256

J. Rhyner, „Grenzen der Beurteilbarkeit der Lawinengefahr“ Grenzen - erkennen, analysieren, über-winden. Beiträge zur Diskussion über Grenzen aus dem 148. Jahreskongress der Akademie der Na-turwissenschaften Schweiz. NAGON, Sarnen, 2005, 156 S.


Ch. Hegg and J. Rhyner , "Warnung bei aussergewöhnlichen Naturereignissen" (Eds.), WSL Fo-rum für Wissen, Zürich, 30 Oktober 2007. ISSN 1021-2256.