A dynamic landslide hazard assessment system for Central America and Hispaniola
- 1Hydrological Sciences Laboratory, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA
- 2Universities Space Research Association, Columbia, Maryland, USA
- 3Columbia University, New York, USA
Abstract. Landslides pose a serious threat to life and property in Central America and the Caribbean Islands. In order to allow regionally coordinated situational awareness and disaster response, an online decision support system was created. At its core is a new flexible framework for evaluating potential landslide activity in near real time: Landslide Hazard Assessment for Situational Awareness. This framework was implemented in Central America and the Caribbean by integrating a regional susceptibility map and satellite-based rainfall estimates into a binary decision tree, considering both daily and antecedent rainfall. Using a regionally distributed, percentile-based threshold approach, the model outputs a pixel-by-pixel nowcast in near real time at a resolution of 30 arcsec to identify areas of moderate and high landslide hazard. The daily and antecedent rainfall thresholds in the model are calibrated using a subset of the Global Landslide Catalog in Central America available for 2007–2013. The model was then evaluated with data for 2014. Results suggest reasonable model skill over Central America and poorer performance over Hispaniola due primarily to the limited availability of calibration and validation data. The landslide model framework presented here demonstrates the capability to utilize globally available satellite products for regional landslide hazard assessment. It also provides a flexible framework to interchange the individual model components and adjust or calibrate thresholds based on access to new data and calibration sources. The availability of free satellite-based near real-time rainfall data allows the creation of similar models for any study area with a spatiotemporal record of landslide events. This method may also incorporate other hydrological or atmospheric variables such as numerical weather forecasts or satellite-based soil moisture estimates within this decision tree approach for improved hazard analysis.