Influence of uncertain identification of triggering rainfall on the assessment of landslide early warning thresholds
Abstract. Uncertainty in rainfall datasets and landslide inventories is known to have negative impacts on the assessment of landslide-triggering thresholds. In this paper, we perform a quantitative analysis of the impacts of uncertain knowledge of landslide initiation instants on the assessment of rainfall intensity–duration landslide early warning thresholds. The analysis is based on a synthetic database of rainfall and landslide information, generated by coupling a stochastic rainfall generator and a physically based hydrological and slope stability model, and is therefore error-free in terms of knowledge of triggering instants. This dataset is then perturbed according to hypothetical
reporting scenarios that allow simulation of possible errors in landslide-triggering instants as retrieved from historical archives. The impact of these errors is analysed jointly using different criteria to single out rainfall events from a continuous series and two typical temporal aggregations of rainfall (hourly and daily). The analysis shows that the impacts of the above uncertainty sources can be significant, especially when errors exceed 1 day or the actual instants follow the erroneous ones. Errors generally lead to underestimated thresholds, i.e. lower than those that would be obtained from an error-free dataset. Potentially, the amount of the underestimation can be enough to induce an excessive number of false positives, hence limiting possible landslide mitigation benefits. Moreover, the uncertain knowledge of triggering rainfall limits the possibility to set up links between thresholds and physio-geographical factors.