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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-2017-393
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
02 Nov 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).
Potential future exposure of European land transport infrastructure to rainfall-induced landslides throughout the 21st century
Matthias Schlögl1,2 and Christoph Matulla3 1Transportation Infrastructure Technologies, Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), Vienna, Austria
2Institute of Applied Statistics and Computing, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna, Austria
3Department for Climate Research, Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Vienna, Austria
Abstract. In the face of climate change, the assessment of land transport infrastructure exposure towards adverse climate events is of major importance for Europe's economic prosperity and social wellbeing. Robust and reliable information on the extent of climate change and its projected future impacts on roads and railways are of prime importance for proactive planning and the implementation of targeted adaptation strategies. Among various menacing natural hazards, landslides stand out as most destructive hazards to the functional effectivity and structural integrity of land-bound transport systems, since they cause long-lasting downtimes and exceedingly expensive repair works. Periods of heavy precipitation persisting over several days are known to be a major trigger for increased landslide activity. Along with climate change such events can be expected to increase in frequency, duration and intensity over the decades to come.

In this study, a Climate Index (CI) picturing rainfall patterns which trigger landslides in Central Europe is analyzed until the end of this century and compared to present day conditions. The analysis of potential future developments is based on an ensemble of dynamically downscaled climate projections which are driven by the SRES A1B socio-economic scenario. Resulting regional scale climate change projections across Central Europe are concatenated with Europe's road and railway network.

Results indicate overall increases of landslide occurrences. While flat terrain at low altitudes exhibits increases of about two more landslide events per year until the end of this century, higher elevated regions are more affected and show increases of up to eight additional events. This general spatial distribution emerges already in the near future (2021–2050) but gets more pronounced in the remote future (2071–2100). Largest increases are to be found in the Alsace. Consequently, potential impacts of increasing landslide events are discussed using the example of a case study covering the Black Forest mountain range in Baden-Württemberg by further enriching the climate information with and additional geodata.

Derived findings are suitable to support political decision-makers and European authorities in transport, freight and logistics by offering detailed information on which parts of Europe's land-bound transport network are at particularly high risk concerning landslide activity. This study supports proactive development of adaption strategies and the realization of cost-efficient and effective protection programmes as well as the generation of guidelines for climate proofing. This refers to the design of transport networks, intermodal logistics as well as the setting up of maintenance and reinforcement strategies in order to safeguard one of the most essential backbones of Europe's economic prosperity.


Citation: Schlögl, M. and Matulla, C.: Potential future exposure of European land transport infrastructure to rainfall-induced landslides throughout the 21st century, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-393, in review, 2017.
Matthias Schlögl and Christoph Matulla
Matthias Schlögl and Christoph Matulla
Matthias Schlögl and Christoph Matulla

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Short summary
Reliable information on the extent of climate change and its projected future impacts on transport infrastructure is of prime importance for the smooth functioning of societies. Rainfall events which may trigger landslides are analyzed until the end of this century and compared to present day conditions. Results indicate overall increases of landslide activity, especially in areas with structured terrain. Derived findings support proactive adaption to rainfall-induced landslide exposure.
Reliable information on the extent of climate change and its projected future impacts on...
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