A data-driven evaluation of post-fire landslide susceptibility

Culler, E. S., B. Livneh, B. Rajagopalan, and K. Tiampo (2023), A data-driven evaluation of post-fire landslide susceptibility, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 23, 1631-1652, doi:10.5194/nhess-23-1631-2023.

Wildfires change the hydrologic and geomorphic response of watersheds, which has been associated with cascades of additional hazards and management challenges. Among these post-wildfire events are shallow landslides and debris flows. This study evaluates post-wildfire mass movement trigger characteristics by comparing the precipitation preceding events at both burned and unburned locations. Landslide events are selected from the NASA Global Landslide Catalog (GLC). Since this catalog contains events from multiple regions worldwide, it allows a greater degree of inter-region comparison than many more localized catalogs. Fire and precipitation histories for each site are established using Moderate Resolution Imagine Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Burned Area and Climate Hazards group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data (CHIRPS) precipitation data, respectively. Analysis of normalized 7 d accumulated precipitation for sites across all regions shows that, globally, mass movements at burned sites are preceded by less precipitation than mass movements without antecedent burn events. This supports the hypothesis that fire increases rainfall-driven mass movement hazards. An analysis of the seasonality of mass movements at burned and unburned locations shows that mass-movement-triggering storms in burned locations tend to exhibit different seasonality from rainfalltriggered mass movements in areas undisturbed by recent fire, with a variety of seasonal shifts ranging from approximately 6 months in the Pacific Northwest of North America to 1 week in the Himalayan region. Overall, this paper offers an exploration of regional differences in the characteristics of rainfall-triggered mass movements at burned and unburned sites over a broad spatial scale and encompassing a variety of climates and geographies.

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Research Program: 
Interdisciplinary Science Program (IDS)
Funding Sources: 
NASA grant no.80NSSC17K0017