Implementation of hydrometeorological thresholds for regional landslide warning in Catalonia (NE Spain)

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Abstract

Soil moisture plays a vital role in slope stability. As water infiltrates into the soil, shear strength decreases eventually leading to failure. However, most of the existing regional-scale landslide early warning systems (LEWS) rely solely on rainfall information and use rainfall thresholds to determine if the landslide triggering conditions are met. The original version of the Catalonia region LEWS combines real-time rainfall observations and susceptibility to compute warnings. The LEWS applies a set of rainfall intensity-duration thresholds to determine if the rainfall conditions have the potential to trigger a landslide. This work explores the potential of using modelled soil moisture data in the Catalonia region LEWS. Volumetric water content (VWC) from the LISFLOOD hydrological simulations of the European Flood Awareness System and rainfall estimates have been analysed at the location of recent landslide events. Based on this data, a set of empirical hydrometeorological thresholds combining rainfall and soil moisture information has been obtained for their application into the Catalonia region LEWS. The LEWS has been run for nine months (April–December 2020) using two approaches: (i) combining susceptibility and rainfall intensity-duration (I-D) thresholds and (ii) combining susceptibility and the new hydrometeorological thresholds including soil moisture information. Generally, both LEWS approaches issued moderate or high warnings in the areas where significant rainfall accumulations were recorded. The outputs have been compared at specific locations where landslides were reported during the analysed period. Results show that at the analysed locations false positives are generally reduced when employing the hydrometeorological thresholds in the LEWS. Therefore, this approach is promising and could help improve regional scale LEWS in Catalonia.

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Palau, R. M., Berenguer, M., Hürlimann, M., & Sempere-Torres, D. (2023). Implementation of hydrometeorological thresholds for regional landslide warning in Catalonia (NE Spain). Landslides, 20(10), 2039–2054. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10346-023-02094-8

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