13 Jan 2023
13 Jan 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Numerical model derived intensity-duration thresholds for early warning of rainfall-induced debris flows in the Himalayas

Srikrishnan Siva Subramanian1, Piyush Srivastava1, Ali Pulpadan Yunus2, Tapas Ranjan Martha3, and Sumit Sen1 Srikrishnan Siva Subramanian et al.
  • 1Centre of Excellence in Disaster Mitigation and Management, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, Uttarakhand-247667, India
  • 2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, Punjab-140306, India
  • 3National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO),Dept. of Space, Govt. Of India, Balanagar, Hyderabad - 500037, India

Abstract. Debris flows triggered by rainfall are catastrophic geohazards that occur compound during extreme events. Early warning systems for shallow landslides and debris flows at the territorial-scale use thresholds of rainfall Intensity-Duration (ID). ID thresholds are defined using hourly rainfall. Due to instrumental and operational challenges, current early warning systems have difficulty forecasting sub-daily time series of weather for landslides in the Himalayas. Here, we present a framework that employs a spatio-temporal numerical model preceded by the weather research and forecast (WRF) model for analysing debris flows induced by extreme rainfall. The WRF model runs at 1.8 km * 1.8 km resolution to produce hourly rainfall. The hourly rainfall is then used as an input boundary condition in the spatio-temporal numerical model for debris flows. The models are first calibrated using the debris flows in the Kedarnath catchment that occurred during the 2013 North India Floods. Various precipitation intensities based on the glossary of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) are set and parametric numerical simulations are run identifying ID thresholds of debris flows. Our findings suggest that the WRF model combined with the debris flow numerical model shall be used to establish ID thresholds in territorial landslide early warning systems (Te-LEWS).

Srikrishnan Siva Subramanian et al.

Status: open (until 05 Mar 2023)

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Srikrishnan Siva Subramanian et al.

Srikrishnan Siva Subramanian et al.


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Short summary
Rainfall intensity-duration (ID) thresholds can aid in the prediction of natural disasters. Large-scale sediment disasters like landslides, debris flows, and flash floods happen frequently in the Himalayas because of their propensity for intense precipitation events. We provide a new framework that combines the weather research and forecasting model (WRF) with a regionally distributed numerical model for debris flows to analyse and predict intense rainfall-induced landslides in the Himalayas.