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Probabilistic thresholds for landslides warning by integrating soil moisture conditions with rainfall thresholds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Binru Zhao
  • Qiang Dai
  • Dawei Han
  • Huichao Dai
  • Jingqiao Mao
  • Lu Zhuo
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-287
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date19 Apr 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 18 Apr 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Apr 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Jul 2019


Various methods have been proposed to define the rainfall thresholds for the landslide prediction. Once the threshold is determined, it remains the same regardless of the antecedent soil moisture conditions. However, given the important role of the antecedent soil moisture in the initiation of landslides, it is considered if the rainfall threshold level varies according to the antecedent soil moisture conditions, the prediction performance will be improved. Therefore, in this study we propose a probabilistic threshold to integrate antecedent soil moisture conditions with rainfall thresholds. In order to take into account the conditions with landslides and without landslides, the Bayesian analysis is applied to estimate the landslide occurrence probability given the various combinations of two factors: the antecedent soil moisture and the severity of the recent rainfall event. These combinations are then divided into conditions that are likely to trigger landslides and those unlikely to trigger landslides by comparing their probabilities with a critical value. In this way, the probabilistic threshold is determined. Here the soil moisture is estimated using the distributed hydrological model, and the severity of the rainfall event is characterized by the cumulated event rainfall-rainfall duration (ED) thresholds with different exceedance probabilities. The proposed approach was applied to a sub-region of the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy. The results show that the probabilistic threshold has a better prediction performance than the ED rainfall threshold, especially in terms of reducing false alarms. This study provides an effective approach to improve the prediction capability of the ED rainfall threshold, benefiting its application in the landslide prediction.

    Research areas

  • Landslides warning, Probabilistic thresholds, Rainfall thresholds, Soil moisture



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    Embargo ends: 19/04/20

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    Licence: CC BY-NC-ND


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