Jakob Rhyner

The Vice Rector in Europe

  • Jakob Rhyner
    Executive Office
    Not available


    PhD, Theoretical Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)
    Professor, Agricultural Faculty, University of Bonn


    UNU Vice Rector in Europe
    Director of UNU-EHS
    Member of the Board of UNU-FTP Iceland
    Co-lead of the UNU Priority Africa Initiative
    UNU Focal Point for HLCP
    Chair of the Forum of the Heads of UN Agencies in Bonn
    Member of the Board of DKKV (German Committee for Disaster Reduction)
    Member of the Advisory Board of the Swiss Civil Protection Agency
    Member of the Steering Board NFP66 for the Swiss National Science Foundation
    Member of the International Advisory Board for the Global Survivability Studies Programme of Kyoto University
    Co-Chair of the Implementation Board for the Future Earth Decade Initiative
    Representative of UNU in the Science and Technology Alliance for Global Sustainability

    Biographical Statement

    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”.

  • Peer-reviewed Books

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

    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 Management 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).
    • M. Heuberger, G. Dietler, R. Strümpler, J. Rhyner, and J. Isberg, “Atomic force and scanning tun-neling microscopy study of TiB2 microcontacts”, J. Appl. Phys. 82, 1255-1261 (1997).
    • J. Rhyner and M.G. Bou-Diab, “Theory of non-linear field grading in cable terminations”, IEEE Trans. DEI 4, 785-791 (1997), and J. Rhyner “Reply to V. Tucci”, IEEE Trans. DEI 6, 267-270 (1999).
    • R. Strümpler, G. Maidorn, and J. Rhyner, “Fast current limitation by conducting polymer compo-sites”, J. Appl. Phys. 81, 6786 (1997).
    • W. Paul, J. Rhyner, Th. Baumann, and F. Platter, “Tests of 100kW high-Tc superconducting fault current limiter”, IEEE Trans. Appl. Supercond. 5, 1059(1995).
    • R. Strümpler, J. Rhyner, F. Greuter, and P. Kluge-Weiss “Non-linear dielectric composites”, Smart Mater. Struct. 4, 215 (1995).
    • J. Rhyner, “Magnetic properties and ac-losses of superconductors with power law current-voltage characteristics”, Physica C212, 292(1993).

    Other Publications (Conference Proceedings, etc)

    • 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.
    • S. Harvey, J. Rhyner, and W. Ammann, “Vom weissen Rausch zum schwarzen Tag. Lawinenrisiko beim Variantenfahren“, fdSnow 22, 28-33 (2003).
    • G. Schnyder, J. Rhyner, D. Politano, M. Sjöström, “HTS in Power Systems”, PSEL-BfE Systems Study, March 2000.
    • J. Rhyner and W. Paul, “Nase vorn im Patentrennen”, akzent Nr.1/Februar 2000, p17.