Technical Note: An operational landslide early warning system at regional scale based on space–time-variable rainfall thresholds
Abstract. We set up an early warning system for rainfall-induced landslides in Tuscany (23 000 km2). The system is based on a set of state-of-the-art intensity–duration rainfall thresholds (Segoni et al., 2014b) and makes use of LAMI (Limited Area Model Italy) rainfall forecasts and real-time rainfall data provided by an automated network of more than 300 rain gauges.
The system was implemented in a WebGIS to ease the operational use in civil protection procedures: it is simple and intuitive to consult, and it provides different outputs. When switching among different views, the system is able to focus both on monitoring of real-time data and on forecasting at different lead times up to 48 h. Moreover, the system can switch between a basic data view where a synoptic scenario of the hazard can be shown all over the region and a more in-depth view were the rainfall path of rain gauges can be displayed and constantly compared with rainfall thresholds.
To better account for the variability of the geomorphological and meteorological settings encountered in Tuscany, the region is subdivided into 25 alert zones, each provided with a specific threshold. The warning system reflects this subdivision: using a network of more than 300 rain gauges, it allows for the monitoring of each alert zone separately so that warnings can be issued independently.
An important feature of the warning system is that the visualization of the thresholds in the WebGIS interface may vary in time depending on when the starting time of the rainfall event is set. The starting time of the rainfall event is considered as a variable by the early warning system: whenever new rainfall data are available, a recursive algorithm identifies the starting time for which the rainfall path is closest to or overcomes the threshold. This is considered the most hazardous condition, and it is displayed by the WebGIS interface.
The early warning system is used to forecast and monitor the landslide hazard in the whole region, providing specific alert levels for 25 distinct alert zones. In addition, the system can be used to gather, analyze, display, explore, interpret and store rainfall data, thus representing a potential support to both decision makers and scientists.