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Climate induced system status changes at slopes and their impact on shallow landslide susceptibility (C3S-ISLS)


C3S-ISLS investigates shallow landslides under changing climate conditions on mountain slopes in Austria. Past landslide events are extracted from archives and remote sensing sources compared with meteorological data to identify weather situations with high probability of landslide occurrence. Landslide susceptibility is modeled for past events and for climate change scenarios in order to estimate increasing or decreasing landslide activity in future. The project aims to develop open source tools for highly automated data processing and to build up a comprehensible database on climate impact on shallow landslide susceptibility.



  • Gerhard Markart
  • Frank Perzl

  • Herbert Formayer


Associated Partners

Further Information

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Literature Database [bib]


Rutzinger, M., Zieher, T., Vetter, M., Geitner, C., Meißl, G., Perzl, F., Markart, G. & Formayer, H. (2013): Climate induced system status changes at slopes and their impact on shallow landslide susceptibility – a concept. In: Alpine Geomorphologie, CH-AT Mountain Days. Mittersill, Austria. [Abstract] [Poster]

Vetter, M., Mandlburger, G. (2014): Modification of high resolution airborne laser scanning DTMs for drainage network delineation. PFG Photogrammetrie, Fernerkundung, Geoinformation 2014 (1): 43-56. doi: 10.1127/1432-8364/2014/0208.

Zieher, T. (2014): Assessing the effects of varying geotechnical parameters on shallow landslide susceptibility modelling with TRIGRS. In: Globaler Wandel - regionale Nachhaltigkeit. Herausforderung für die Geographie?". Innsbruck, Austria. [Abstract]

Zieher, T., Rutzinger, M. & Meißl, G. (2014): Sensitivity analysis and calibration of a coupled hydrological slope stability model (TRIGRS). In: Geophysical Abstracts. Vol. 16(EGU2014-8110)

Zieher, T., Rutzinger, M., Vetter, M., Geitner, C., Meißl, G., Perzl, F., Markart, G. & Formayer, H. (2014): Climate induced system status changes at slopes and their impact on shallow landslide susceptibility - the project's research plan. In: 15. Österreichischer Klimatag. Innsbruck, Austria. [Abstract] [Poster]

Zieher, T., Rutzinger, M., Meißl, G., Geitner, C. & Seijmonsbergen, A., C. (2015): Geotechnical maps as input data for physically-based modelling of shallow landslide susceptibility. In: 5th EUGEO Congress on the Geography of Europe. Budapest, Hungary.

Zieher, T., Rutzinger, M. & Geitner, C. (2015): Assessing the impact of input data quality on the modelling of shallow landslide susceptibility. In: Geophysical Abstracts. Vienna, Austira Vol. 17(EGU2015-13005)

Zieher, T., Perzl, F., Rössel, M., Rutzinger, M., Meißl, G., Markart, G. & Geitner, C. (2016): A multi-annual landslide inventory for the assessment of shallow landslide susceptibility – Two test cases in Vorarlberg, Austria. Geomorphology. , pp. in press.





Shallow landslides are a frequent phenomenon in mountainous areas occurring after long intensive rainfalls. If precipitation patterns change due to climate change also the risk of landslide occurrence will change. Such mass movements occur and effect several different land use and land cover types resulting in loss of soil and damage of landscape. Even if only small or local sized patches are affected the consequences are severe for e.g. agricultural usage, tourism and infrastructure. Shallow landslides are currently integrated in natural hazard planning, which shows the increasing importance of this process type in natural hazard management.

The system status i.e. the relations between triggering factors such as precipitation and susceptibility of slopes are not fully understood until now. The complex combination of factors describing the system status of a slope make it difficult to identify an explicit critical system status. Therefore the formulation of a model is needed, which allows the systematically analysis of triggering factors and slope susceptibility factors. Recent publications from Swiss-Alps report an increasing occurrence of shallow landslides whereas climate change plays a significant role. The relation between climate, critical system status and the occurrence of shallow landslides will be investigated in the proposed project.

The investigations in the proposed project concentrate on gravitative process types, which consequently excludes processes with similar appearance, which are e.g. triggered by snow gliding. The landslide type of investigation occurring especially at lower slope parts i.e. slope toe due to saturation. On the one hand inhomogeneity in the soil/regolith and the occurrence of weakness layers may enhance the susceptibility of land slides. On the other hand ‘slope explosions’ can trigger landslides transporting the material in the order of ten to hundred meters distance. Saturation occurs either due to snow melting in spring e.g. in combination with rainfall or in summer due to long intensive rainfalls such as in 1999, 2002 and 2005 in Tyrol and Vorarlberg (Austria), which caused severe damages.

The difficulty lies especially in the timing and localization of shallow landslides. The main objective is to investigate the potential influence of climate change on the location of landslide occurrence. The proposed method integrates different data sources from terrain analysis, land cover, land use mapping, and information on the sub-surface structure of the substratum. Its findings will lead to an improved understanding fundamental principles and relations of basic and variable susceptibility factors under climate change conditions by investigating slope system status and precipitation patterns steering shallow landslide occurrence in the Alps. From these findings hazard maps for the present situation and climate change scenarios are generated providing decision support to policy makers, public administrations, researchers and practitioners. These objectives will be reached by answering the following research questions:

  • Which basic susceptibility has a slope and which system states promote the trigger of spontaneous shallow landslide events?
  • How system status and subsequently variable landslide susceptibility are affected by climate change spatially and temporally?
  • How can the risk of shallow landslides be mapped and integrated in natural hazard maps to identify endangered settlements, cultural areas and infrastructures and how will risk change under different climate scenarios?

We propose modelling slope stability by considering slope geometry (elevation, relief and slope angle), slope sediment properties (depth, density, cohesion, angel of friction) hydraulic properties (conductivity, diffusivity), which are influenced by land cover and land use considering slope susceptibility and infiltration at changing precipitation patterns due to climate change based on a distributed model. The model is calibrated by mapping historic and recent shallow landslide events from remote sensing data (Vorarlberg and Tyrol). Thereby area wide landslide mapping inventory is used to integrate runoff exposure estimated from high resolution topography from airborne topographic LiDAR data. Surface morphometry and potential infiltration are used to derive susceptibility, which describes the potential proneness of a slope to failure. A further considered factor steering runoff exposure are land use and land cover with especially emphasis on forested areas and forest structure. Shallow landslide locations are investigated towards the layering of the substratum e.g. including penetrometer tests, geotechnical and geophysical parameters. The toolbox of methods will be further diversified until the majority of landslide locations can be explained. Validation of model results is achieved with historic data sets and transfer of the model to independent validation areas. Finally, due to the better understanding of the contribution of the system status due to landslide susceptibility scenarios for landslide susceptibility due to climate change are given.

C3S-ISLS is funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund, ACRP Program.

Sie befinden sich im Verzeichnis / geographie / lidar / c3s