Recurring landslides in the Western Ghats have become an important concern for authorities, considering the recent disasters that occurred during the 2018 and 2019 monsoons. Wayanad is one of the highly affected districts in Kerala State (India), where landslides have become a threat to lives and properties. Rainfall is the major factor which triggers landslides in this region, and hence, an early warning system could be developed based on empirical rainfall thresholds considering the relationship between rainfall events and their potential to initiate landslides. As an initial step in achieving this goal, a detailed study was conducted to develop a regional scale rainfall threshold for the area using intensity and duration conditions, using the landslides that occurred during the years from 2010 to 2018. Detailed analyses were conducted in order to select the most effective method for choosing a reference rain gauge and rainfall event associated with the occurrence of landslides. The study ponders the effect of the selection of rainfall parameters for this data-sparse region by considering four different approaches. First, a regional scale threshold was defined using the nearest rain gauge. The second approach was achieved by selecting the most extreme rainfall event recorded in the area, irrespective of the location of landslide and rain gauge. Third, the classical definition of intensity was modified from average intensity to peak daily intensity measured by the nearest rain gauge. In the last approach, four different local scale thresholds were defined, exploring the possibility of developing a threshold for a uniform meteo-hydro-geological condition instead of merging the data and developing a regional scale threshold. All developed thresholds were then validated and empirically compared to find the best suited approach for the study area. From the analysis, it was observed that the approach selecting the rain gauge based on the most extreme rainfall parameters performed better than the other approaches. The results are useful in understanding the sensitivity of Intensity–Duration threshold models to some boundary conditions such as rain gauge selection, the intensity definition and the strategy of subdividing the area into independent alert zones. The results were discussed with perspective on a future application in a regional scale Landslide Early Warning System (LEWS) and on further improvements needed for this objective.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited