28 Apr 2021
28 Apr 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal NHESS.

A data-driven evaluation of post-fire landslide susceptibility

Elsa S. Culler1,2, Ben Livneh1,2, Balaji Rajagopalan1, and Kristy F. Tiampo3,2 Elsa S. Culler et al.
  • 1University of Colorado Boulder Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering
  • 2Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), University of Colorado Boulder
  • 3University of Colorado Boulder Department of Geologic Sciences

Abstract. Wildfires change the hydrologic and geomorphic response of watersheds, which has been associated with cascading hazards that include shallow landslides and debris flows. This study evaluates post-wildfire landslide trigger characteristics by comparing precipitation preceding landslides at both burned and unburned locations. Landslide events are selected from the NASA Global Landslide Catalog (GLC) to facilitate regional inter-comparison. Fire and precipitation histories for each site are established using MODIS global burned area and CHIRPS precipitation data, respectively. Analysis of normalized seven-day accumulated precipitation for sites across all regions shows that, globally, landslides at burned sites are preceded by less precipitation than landslides without antecedent burn events. This supports the hypothesis that fire increases rainfall-driven landslide hazards. An analysis of the seasonality of landslides at burned and unburned locations shows that landslide-triggering storms in burned locations tend to exhibit different seasonality from other rainfall-triggered landslides, with a variety of seasonal shifts ranging from approximately six months in the Pacific Northwest of North America to one week in the Himalaya region. Overall, this manuscript offers an exploration of regional differences in the characteristics of rainfall-triggered landslides over a broad spatial scale and encompassing a variety of climates, geographies, and burn conditions.

Elsa S. Culler et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-111', Lorenzo Marchi, 12 May 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Elsa Culler, 09 Aug 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-111', Anonymous Referee #2, 24 Jun 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Elsa Culler, 10 Aug 2021

Elsa S. Culler et al.

Elsa S. Culler et al.


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Short summary
Landslides have often been observed in the aftermath of wildfires. This study explores regional patterns in the rainfall that caused landslides both after fires and in unburned locations. In general, landslides that occur after fires are triggered by less rainfall, confirming that fire helps to set the stage for landslides. However, there are regional differences in the ways in which fire impacts landslides, such as the size and direction of shifts in the seasonality of landslides after fires.