This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11091
Landslides are one of the most pervasive hazards in the world, resulting in more fatalities and economic damage than is generally recognized. They have caused more than 11,500 fatalities in 70 countries from 2007-2010, and in the United States alone $1-2 billion dollars per year in damage from destroyed houses and blocked roads, according to the United States Geological Survey. Saturating the soil on vulnerable slopes, intense and prolonged rainfall is the most frequent landslide trigger. But understanding the land and weather conditions that lead to landslides on larger scales or within developing countries is often difficult because of the lack of ground-based sensors at the landslide site to provide rainfall information.
Aerial view of landslide that buried Colonia Las Colinas.
While rainfall-triggered landslides tend to be localized to a hillside, a recent global model uses TRMM information on rainfall accumulation over one day to a week to provide a near global picture of areas where landslides may be anticipated. Still in development stages, this global landslide nowcasting model may be helpful to characterize landslide hazards in near real-time over larger areas. It combines information on surface susceptibility, including topography, soil type and vegetation with TRMM rainfall data to identify locations of potential landslides. Model outputs and documentation of the global flood and landslide systems are available at the TRMM Global Flood and Landslide Monitoring page. GPM’s more frequent and more detailed coverage of the globe may help improve model accuracy and expand potential landslide forecasting capabilities.
An example of TRMM's landslide monitoring maps that show areas which may be more susceptible to landslides.
Go to the TRMM Potential Landslide Areas page.
Modeling and Reporting Landslides
The global Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness (LHASA) model was developed to provide situational awareness of landslide hazards for a wide range of users. The model combines TRMM and GPM near real-time precipitation data with a Global Landslide Susceptibility map to generate a hazards nowcast which indicates where landslides are likely to occur around the world. In the future the LHASA model will be evaluated using the Cooperative Open Online Landslide Repository (COOLR), which combines data from the Global Landslide Catalog and data from citizen scientists in an effort to reduce inconsistencies in how landslides are reported in different regions.
This image shows the Casita volcano in western Nicaragua after a mudslide caused by Hurricane Mitch in October of 1998. Photograph by U.S. Geological Survey.
EXTREME WEATHER NEWS
Landslides cause thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in property damage each year. Surprisingly, very few centralized global landslide databases exist, especially those that are publicly available. Now NASA scientists are working to fill the gap—and they want your help collecting information. In March 2018, NASA scientist Dalia Kirschbaum and several colleagues launched a citizen science project that will make it possible to report landslides you have witnessed, heard about in the news, or found on an online database. All you need to do is log into the Landslide Reporter portal and...
For the first time, scientists can look at landslide threats anywhere around the world in near real-time, thanks to satellite data and a new model developed by NASA. The model, developed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, estimates potential landslide activity triggered by rainfall. Rainfall is the most widespread trigger of landslides around the world. If conditions beneath Earth's surface are already unstable, heavy rains act as the last straw that causes mud, rocks or debris — or all combined — to move rapidly down mountains and hillsides.
As farmers in Nepal prepare for the benefits of monsoon season, Dalia Kirschbaum anticipates the dangers of those torrential rains—mainly, the loosening of earth on steep slopes that can lead to landslides. Kirschbaum oversees a team of researchers designing an automated system to identify potential landslides that might otherwise go undetected and unreported. The computer program scans satellite imagery for signs that a landslide may have occurred recently. The Sudden Landslide Identification Product (SLIP) combs through Earth imagery and analyzes consecutive images of the same location...
On October 6, 2014 (0215 UTC) the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission's Core Observatory flew over Typhoon Phanfone as it made landfall over Tokyo, Japan. At this point, Typhoon Phanfone is category 3 with maximum sustained winds at 127 miles per hour (mph) and gusts reaching 155 mph. Phanfone caused landslides and flooding throughout Japan.
A recent NASA study published in the October issue of the Journal of Hydrometeorology compared satellite rain data from NASA’s Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) to landslides in central eastern China, Central America and the Himalayan Arc, three regions with diverse climates and topography where rainfall-triggered landslides are frequent and destructive hazards to the local populations. The work is part of an ongoing effort to catalog worldwide rainfall-triggered landslides—one of the world's lesser known but often catastrophic natural hazards. Locating them is a step in an effort...