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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-316
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-316
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 06 Nov 2018

Research article | 06 Nov 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

A susceptibility-based rainfall threshold approach for landslide occurrence

Elise Monsieurs1,2,3, Olivier Dewitte1, and Alain Demoulin2,3 Elise Monsieurs et al.
  • 1Royal Museum for Central Africa, Leuvensesteenweg 13, 3080 Tervuren, Belgium
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Liège, Clos Mercator 3, 4000 Liège, Belgium
  • 3F.R.S.-FNRS, Egmontstraat 5, 1000 Brussel, Belgium

Abstract. Rainfall threshold determination is a pressing issue in the landslide scientific community. While main improvements have been made towards more reproducible techniques for the identification of triggering conditions for landsliding, the now well-established rainfall intensity or event – duration thresholds for landsliding suffer from several limitations. Here, we propose a new approach of the frequentist method for threshold definition based on satellite-derived antecedent rainfall estimates directly coupled with landslide susceptibility data. Adopting a bootstrap statistical technique for the identification of threshold uncertainties at different exceedance probability levels, it results in thresholds expressed as AR=±∆α)*S(β ± ∆β), where AR is antecedent rainfall (mm), S is landslide susceptibility, α and β are scaling parameters, and ∆α and ∆β are their uncertainties. The main improvements of this approach consist in: (1) using spatially continuous satellite rainfall data, (2) giving equal weight to rainfall characteristics and ground susceptibility factors in the definition of spatially varying rainfall thresholds, (3) proposing an exponential antecedent rainfall function that involves past daily rainfall in the exponent to account for the different lasting effect of large versus small rainfall, (4) quantitatively exploiting the lower parts of the cloud of data points, most meaningful for threshold estimation, and (5) merging the uncertainty on landslide date with the fit uncertainty in a single error estimation. We apply our approach in the western branch of the East African Rift based on landslides that occurred between 2001 and 2018, satellite rainfall estimates from the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA 3B42 RT), and the continental-scale map of landslide susceptibility of Broeckx et al. (2018) and provide first regional rainfall thresholds for landsliding in tropical Africa.

Elise Monsieurs et al.
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Short summary
We propose in this study a fundamentally new approach for the definition of minimum rainfall required for the initiation of landslides based on satellite-derived antecedent rainfall estimates directly coupled with data on surface susceptibility for landslides. We apply our approach in the western branch of the East African Rift and provide first regional rainfall thresholds for landsliding in tropical Africa.
We propose in this study a fundamentally new approach for the definition of minimum rainfall...
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