Articles | Volume 18, issue 4
Research article
11 Apr 2018
Research article |  | 11 Apr 2018

Potential future exposure of European land transport infrastructure to rainfall-induced landslides throughout the 21st century

Matthias Schlögl and Christoph Matulla

Abstract. In the face of climate change, the assessment of land transport infrastructure exposure towards adverse climate events is of major importance for Europe's economic prosperity and social wellbeing. In this study, a climate index estimating rainfall patterns which trigger landslides in central Europe is analysed until the end of this century and compared to present-day conditions. The analysis of the potential future development of landslide risk is based on an ensemble of dynamically downscaled climate projections which are driven by the SRES A1B socio-economic scenario. Resulting regional-scale climate change projections across central Europe are concatenated with Europe's road and railway network. Results indicate overall increases of landslide occurrence. While flat terrain at low altitudes exhibits an increase of about 1 more potentially landslide-inducing rainfall period per year until the end of this century, higher elevated regions are more affected and show increases of up to 14 additional periods. This general spatial distribution emerges in the near future (2021–2050) but becomes more pronounced in the remote future (2071–2100). Since largest increases are to be found in Alsace, potential impacts of an increasing amount of landslides are discussed using the example of a case study covering the Black Forest mountain range in Baden-Württemberg by further enriching the climate information with additional geodata. The findings derived are suitable to support political decision makers and European authorities in transport, freight and logistics by offering detailed information on which parts of Europe's ground transport network are at particularly high risk concerning landslide activity.

Short summary
Reliable information on the extent of climate change and its projected future impacts on transport infrastructure is of prime importance for the smooth functioning of societies. Rainfall events which may trigger landslides are analysed until the end of this century and compared to present-day conditions. Results indicate overall increases of landslide activity, especially in areas with structured terrain. Derived findings support proactive adaptation to rainfall-induced landslide exposure.
Final-revised paper