Rhyner, Jakob

Vice-Rector in Europe and Director UNU-EHS

UNU Publications
Selected NON-UNU Publications
  • Jakob Rhyner
    Executive Office

    Research Interests

    • Research and Management of Environmental Risks


    • Professor, Agricultural Faculty, University of Bonn
    • PhD, Theoretical Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)
    • MSc. (Swiss Diploma), Theoretical Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland


    • Advisory Boards of UNU-BIOLAC, -FTP, -GTP and -LRT
    • UNISDR Science and Technology Advisory Group (STAG), member
    • Governing Council Future Earth, Co-chair
    • International Advisory Group for the Global Survivability Studies Programme of the University of Kyoto, member
    • Board University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, member
    • Board Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), member
    • Board Foundation Development and Peace, North Rhine-Westphalia, member
    • Steering Board Swiss National Science Foundation Programme NFP66 “Resource Wood” NFP66, member
    • 2003-2010 Swiss Expert Commission for Avalanches and Rockfall, member
    • 2003-2007 Coordinator of the Group of European Avalanche Warning Services

    Biographical Statement

    Prof. Dr. Jakob Rhyner is the Vice-Rector for UNU in Europe and the Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

    As the only Vice-Rector outside of the UNU headquarters in Japan, Prof. Dr. Rhyner supports the worldwide institutional development of UNU, particularly in Europe and Africa.

    In his role as the Director of UNU-EHS, Prof. Dr. Rhyner provides the strategic direction for all research and educational activities of the institute which is focused on risks and adaptation related to environmental hazards and global change. Particular attention is paid to a common view on disaster risk mitigation and sustainable development. The main geographic focus of UNU-EHS is placed on Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Rhyner, UNU-EHS developed the first joint Master of Science degree programme “Geography of Environmental Risks and Human Security” which is offered together with the University of Bonn and had its first student intake in 2013. Prof. Rhyner also oversees the UNU-EHS PhD programme as well as academic seminars and summer courses.

    Prof. Dr. Rhyner is a professor at the Agricultural Faculty of the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University in Bonn. He holds PhD in Theoretical Physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich. As part of his PhD research, he was a visiting scientist with the L.D. Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics in Moscow and later on a Postdoc at the Department of Physics of Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Prior to joining UNU in 2010, Prof. Dr. Rhyner served as the director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos, where he had previously acted as the institute’s head of the Avalanche Warning and Risk Management Division. At SLF, Prof. Dr. Rhyner was responsible for the Swiss avalanche warning system, including forecast, measurement networks, education, training, process research and the development of risk management methodologies. In 2005 he initiated the extension of the avalanche forecast and warning system to alpine hydrological hazards. During this time he was also a member of the Directorate of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL).

    Prof. Dr. Rhyner began his professional career working in industrial research for ABB Ltd, focusing on the application of superconductivity in electric networks and high voltage technologies for energy transmission.

    A national of Switzerland, Prof. Dr. Rhyner speaks fluent English, German, French and advanced Swedish and Norwegian.

  • Articles

    Book Chapters

    Conference Proceedings


    • van der Geest, Kees, Kreft, Soenke, Zommers, Zinta, Huq, Saleemul, Amy Quandt, Preato, Alberto, Chandra, Alvin, Mulla, Ava, Chaffin, Brian, Koto, Camari, Barthelt,Christian, Carter, Christopher J., Corendea, Cosmin, Wrathall, David, Opondo, Denis Opiyo, Florano, Ebinezer, Yustiningrum, Emilia, Boyd, Emily, Derrington, Erin, Roberts, Erin, Rabbani, Golam, Khan, Hafijul Islam, Islam, Ina, Ahmedi, Istiakh, Bolland, Jack, Rhyner, Jakob, Junghardt, Jana, Warner, Koko, Schaefer, Laura, Nijzink, Laurens, Mukherjee, Nandan, Jha, Nimisha, Serdeczny, Olivia, James, Rachel, Granados, Rocio, De Souza, Roger M., Henry, Sabine, Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, Schwan, Susanne, Cannon, Terry, Loster, Thomas and Pathak, Vishal (2016). Loss and Damage Livelihood Resilience. United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.
    • Ayeb-Karlsson, Sonja, Tanner, Thomas, van der Geest, Kees, Warner, Koko, Adams, Helen, Ahmedi, Istiakh, Alaniz, Ryan, Andrei, Stephanie, Barthelt,Christian, Bhargava, Malashree, Bronen, Robin, Contreras, Diana, Cradock-Henry, Nick, Fernando, Nishara, Henly-Shepard, Sarah, Huq, Saleemul, Lawless, Christopher, Lewis, David, Loster, Thomas, McNamara, Karen, Milan, Andrea, Mitchell, Tom, Nawrotzki, Raphael, Olson, Laura, Prasad, Vivek, Rahman, Ashiqur, Rhyner, Jakob, Rivera, Andrea, Sietz, Diana, De Souza, Roger M., Thomalla, Frank, Tellman, Elizabeth, Vivo, Gaetano, Williams, Casey, Wrathall, David and Zommers, Zinta (2015). Livelihood resilience in a changing world – 6 global policy recommendations for a more sustainable future. UNU-EHS Working Paper. UNU-EHS.
    • Garschagen, Matthias, Hagenlocher, Michael, Kloos, Julia, Pardoe, Joanna, Lanzendörfer, Matthias, Mucke, Peter, Radtke, Katrin, Rhyner, Jakob, Walter, Bernhard, Welle, Torsten and Birkmann, Joern (2015). World Risk Report 2015. Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and UNU-EHS.
    • Birkmann, Joern, Garschagen, Matthias, Mucke, Peter, Schauder, Almuth, Seibert, Thomas, Welle, Torsten, Rhyner, Jakob, Kohler, Stefan, Loster, Thomas, Reinhard, Dirk and Matuschke, Ira (2014). World Risk Report 2014. World Risk Report. Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft and UNU-EHS.
    • Butenop, Joost, Kistemann, Thomas, Marx, Michael, Mucke, Peter, Radtke, Katrin, Schmitz, Peter, Schubert, Kirsten, Gebauer, Thomas, Weinreich, Sonja, Welle, Torsten, Birkmann, Joern, Rhyner, Jakob, Witting, Maximilian and Wolfertz, Jan (2013). World Risk Report 2013. World Risk Report. Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft.
    • Beck, Michael W., Shepard, Christine C., Birkmann, Joern, Rhyner, Jakob, Witting, Maximilian, Wolfertz, Jan, Martens, Jens, Maurer, Katja, Mucke, Peter and Radtke, Katrin (2012). World Risk Report 2012. World Risk Report. Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft.
  • Articles

    • Romang, Hans, Zappa, Massimiliano, Hilker, Nadine, Gerber, Matthias, Dufour, Francois, Frede Valérie, Bérod, Dominique, Oplatka, Matthias and Rhyner Jakob (2011). IFKIS-Hydro – Early Warning and Information System for Floods and Debris Flows. Natural Hazards, 56(2), 509-527.
    • Badoux, Alexandre, Graf, Christoph, Rhyner, Jakob, Kuntner, Richard and McArdell, Brian W. (2009). A Debris-Flow Alarm System for the Alpine Illgraben Catchment: Design and Performance. Natural Hazards, 49(3), 517–539.
    • Rheinberger, Christoph M., Bründl, Michael and Rhyner, Jakob (2009). Dealing with the White Death: Avalanche Risk Management for Traffic Routes. Risk Analysis, 29(1), 76-94.
    • Bründl, Michael, Etter, Hans-Jürg, Steiniger, Manfred, Klingler, C., Rhyner, Jakob, Ammann, Walter, (2004). IFKIS – a basis for managing avalanche risk in settlements and on roads in Switzerland. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 4, 309-313.
    • Rhyner, Jakob (2002). Vector potential theory of ac losses in superconductors. Physica, C377(1-2), 56-66.
    • Rhyner, Jakob (1998). Ac Loss Calculation in HTSC Tapes with Arbitrary Current Voltage Characteris-tics. Physica, C310, 42-47.
    • Blatter, Gianni, Ivlev, Boris I. and Rhyner, Jakob (1991). Kosterlitz-Thouless transition in the smectic vortex state of a layered super-conductor. Physical Review Letters. 66, 2392-2395.
    • Rhyner, Jakob and Blatter, Gianni (1989). Optimal manifolds in random media. Europhysics Letters. 10(5), 401-406.
    • Gähler, Franz and Rhyner, Jakob (1986). Equivalence of the generalised grid and projection methods for the construction of quasiperiodic tilings. Journal of Physics A19, 267-277

    Book Chapters

    • Romang, Hans, Dufour, Francois, Gerber, Matthias, Rhyner, Jakob, Zappa, Massimiliano, Hilker, Nadineand Hegg, Christoph (2009). Flood Warning in smaller Catchments, in Flood Risk Manage-ment: Research and Practice, eds. Samuels, Paul, Huntington, Stephen, Allsop, William, Harrop, Jackie. (London: Taylor & Francis Group), 1201-1207.