Articles | Volume 8, issue 4
19 Aug 2008
 | 19 Aug 2008

Spatial and temporal variations of Norwegian geohazards in a changing climate, the GeoExtreme Project

C. Jaedicke, A. Solheim, L. H. Blikra, K. Stalsberg, A. Sorteberg, A. Aaheim, K. Kronholm, D. Vikhamar-Schuler, K. Isaksen, K. Sletten, K. Kristensen, I. Barstad, C. Melchiorre, Ø. A. Høydal, and H. Mestl

Abstract. Various types of slope processes, mainly landslides and avalanches (snow, rock, clay and debris) pose together with floods the main geohazards in Norway. Landslides and avalanches have caused more than 2000 casualties and considerable damage to infrastructure over the last 150 years. The interdisciplinary research project "GeoExtreme" focuses on investigating the coupling between meteorological factors and landslides and avalanches, extrapolating this into the near future with a changing climate and estimating the socioeconomic implications. The main objective of the project is to predict future geohazard changes in a changing climate. A database consisting of more than 20 000 recorded historical events have been coupled with a meteorological database to assess the predictability of landslides and avalanches caused by meteorological conditions. Present day climate and near future climate scenarios are modelled with a global climate model on a stretched grid, focusing on extreme weather events in Norway. The effects of climate change on landslides and avalanche activity are studied in four selected areas covering the most important climatic regions in Norway. The statistical analysis of historical landslide and avalanche events versus weather observations shows strong regional differences in the country. Avalanches show the best correlation with weather events while landslides and rockfalls are less correlated. The new climate modelling approach applying spectral nudging to achieve a regional downscaling for Norway proves to reproduce extreme events of precipitation much better than conventional modelling approaches. Detailed studies of slope stabilities in one of the selected study area show a high sensitivity of slope stability in a changed precipitation regime. The value of elements at risk was estimated in one study area using a GIS based approach that includes an estimation of the values within given present state hazard zones. The ongoing project will apply the future climate scenarios to predict the changes in geohazard levels, as well as an evaluation of the resulting socioeconomic effects on the Norwegian society in the coming 50 years.