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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-241
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Invited perspectives
18 Jul 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Invited perspectives. A hydrological look to precipitation intensity duration thresholds for landslide initiation: proposing hydro-meteorological thresholds
Thom Bogaard1 and Roberto Greco2 1Water Resources Section, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, the Netherlands
2Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile Design Edilizia e Ambiente, Università degli Studi della Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Aversa (CE), Italy
Abstract. The vast majority of shallow landslides and debris flows are precipitation initiated. Therefore, regional landslide hazard assessment is often based on empirically derived precipitation-intensity-duration (PID) thresholds and landslide inventories. Generally, two features of precipitation events are plotted and labelled with (shallow) landslide occurrence or non-occurrence. Hereafter, a separation line or zone is drawn, mostly in logarithmic space. The practical background of PID is that often only meteorological information is available when analyzing (non-) occurrence of shallow landslides and, at the same time, the conceptual idea is that precipitation information is a good proxy for both meteorological trigger and hydrological cause. Although applied in many case studies, this approach suffers from indistinct threshold, many false positives as well as limited physical process understanding. Some first steps towards a more hydrologically based approach have been proposed in the past, but these efforts received limited follow-up.

Therefore, the objective of our paper is to: (a) critically analyse the concept of PID thresholds for shallow landslides and debris flows from a hydro-meteorological point of view, and (b) propose a novel trigger-cause conceptual framework for lumped regional hydro-meteorological hazard assessment. We will discuss this based on the published examples and associated discussion. We discuss the PID thresholds in relation to return periods of precipitation, soil physics and slope and catchment water balance. With this paper, we aim to contribute to the development of a stronger conceptual model for regional landslide hazard assessment based on physical process understanding and empirical data.


Citation: Bogaard, T. and Greco, R.: Invited perspectives. A hydrological look to precipitation intensity duration thresholds for landslide initiation: proposing hydro-meteorological thresholds, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-241, in review, 2017.
Thom Bogaard and Roberto Greco
Thom Bogaard and Roberto Greco
Thom Bogaard and Roberto Greco

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Short summary
The vast majority of shallow landslides and debris flows are precipitation initiated and predicted using historical landslides plotted versus observed precipitation information. However, this approach has severe limitations. This is partly due to the fact that it is not precipitation that initiates a landslide or debris flow but the hydrological dynamics in the soil and slope. We propose to include hydrological information in the lumped regional hydro-meteorological hazard assessment.
The vast majority of shallow landslides and debris flows are precipitation initiated and...
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