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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  22 Jan 2020

22 Jan 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

New Global Characterization of Landslide Exposure

Robert Emberson1, Dalia Kirschbaum1, and Thomas Stanley2 Robert Emberson et al.
  • 1Hydrological Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771 USA
  • 2Universities Space Research Association/GESTAR, 7178 Columbia Gateway Dr, Columbia, Maryland 21046 USA

Abstract. Landslides triggered by intense rainfall are hazards that impact people and infrastructure across the world, but comprehensively quantifying exposure to these hazards remains challenging. Unlike earthquakes or flooding which cover large areas, landslides primarily occur in highly susceptible parts of a landscape affected by intense rainfall or seismic shaking, which may not intersect human settlement or infrastructure. Existing global landslide inventories generally include only those reported to have caused impacts, leading to significant biases toward both locations where impacts are common and areas with higher reporting capacity. To address the limits of report-based inventories, we have combined a globally homogenous landslide hazard proxy derived from satellite data with open-source datasets on population, roads and infrastructure to consistently estimate global exposure to landslide hazards. These exposure models compare favourably with existing datasets of rainfall-triggered landslide fatalities, while filling in major gaps in inventory-based estimates in parts of the world with lower reporting capacity. Our findings also, for the first time, distinguish relative levels of landslide hazard mitigation between different countries.

Robert Emberson et al.

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Robert Emberson et al.

Robert Emberson et al.


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Latest update: 08 Aug 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Landslides cause thousands of fatalities and cost billions of dollars of damage worldwide every year, but different inventories of landslide events can have widely diverging completeness. This can lead to spatial biases in our understanding of the impacts. Here we use a globally homogeneous model of landslide hazard and exposure to provide consistent estimates of where landslides are most likely to cause damage to people, roads, and other critical infrastructure at 1 km resolution.
Landslides cause thousands of fatalities and cost billions of dollars of damage worldwide every...