Eastern Alpine Slope Instabilities in a Changing Climate (EASICLIM)
Landslides are slope instabilities and a major threat to Austria's population, urban settlements, infrastructure and environment. The main natural triggers for landslides in Austria are heavy rainfall events and rapid snow melting. Whereas short and heavy rainfall events mainly trigger shallow landslides, long-lasting rainfall events trigger both shallow and deep-seated landslides. The prealpine study area in the southeastern part of Styria is susceptible to landslides because of its geological conditions, its land-cover and climate.
A particularly extreme event happened in June 2009, when a persistent cut-off low over the Adriatic Sea caused more than 3000 landslides in the Feldbach region. A similar, but less severe event happened in 2014.
Research Questions and Methods
Against this background, the EASICLIM project addressed three research questions:
To what extent can the severity of the 2009 and 2014 events be attributed to climate change?
How would such events manifest in a warmer future climate, both in terms of severity and occurrence? Could the associated impacts be reduced by pro-active land-use management?
How do people at risk of landslides prepare for future landslides, and how do their risk perceptions and adaptation intentions vary between different future landslide scenarios?
To achieve the project objectives, we combined a high resolution climate modelling approach with a statistical model for landslide susceptibility. A regional climate model was used to simulate the observed meteorological event under actual observed conditions as well as under counterfactual past (1°C cooler) and warmer conditions. For the warmer conditions, we considered both a continued warming without climate mitigation as well as the target to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial climate, as specified in the Paris agreement. The event simulations were complemented by an analysis of changes in the occurrence of large-scale weather types leading to such events, as simulated by global climate models (GCM). The statistical landslide model was calibrated to represent the statistical influence of observed environmental conditions, including precipitation and land-use/land-cover, on the observed landslide occurrences during the 2009 and 2014 events. To assess the influence of climate-change and land-use land-cover changes on landslide susceptibility, the RCM simulations as well as a realistic scenario of land-use land-cover changes were fed into the statistical landslide model. The natural science part of the project was complemented by a survey to understand the preparedness of the affected population and by an art project.
Knevels, R.; Petschko, H.; Proske, H.; Leopold, P.; Maraun, D.; Brenning, A. Event-Based Landslide Modeling in the Styrian Basin, Austria: Accounting for Time-Varying Rainfall and Land Cover. Geosciences 10, 217, 2020.
|Project name:||EASICLIM - Eastern Alpine Slope Instabilities under Climate Change|
|Project leader:||Douglas Maraun|
|Project team:||Philipp Babcicky(PhD student)|
|Partners:||Joanneum Research (Styria); AIT (Vienna); Universität Jena (Germany); Prinzi und Freund (Styria)|
|Sponsor:||This project is sponsored by the Austrian Climate and Energy Funds in the frame of the "ACRP"-program. (ACRP 9th call)|
|Duration:||Apr. 2017 - Mar. 2019|