ChangingRISKS - "Changing pattern of landslide risks as response to global changes in mountain areas"



Landslides represent a major threat to human life, property and constructed facilities, infrastructure and natural environment in most mountainous and hilly regions of the world. Statistics from The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) indicate that, on average, landslides are responsible for an only small percentage of all fatalities from natural hazards worldwide. However, the socio-economic impact of landslides is underestimated because landslides are often triggered by other natural hazards, such as extreme precipitation, earthquakes or floods and are usually not recorded separately. This underestimation contributes to reducing the awareness and concern of both authorities and general public about landslide risk.

Thus, landslides across the Alpine mountains are recognised by the scientific and politic authorities as having a major socio-economic impact and they represent a significant danger for the population and the properties in particular locations. On the one hand, more frequent triggering events and increased susceptibility of the soil surface to instabilities as consequence of climate change are one factor which increases the landslide risk. On the other hand, a higher vulnerability of population and infrastructure due to anthropogenic activities, growing urbanization, development of touristic activities in mountain areas and uncontrolled land-use which also influence the susceptibility of slopes to failure increases the risk. This leads to a raising need to forecast the occurrence of landslides and the hazard and risk associated with them.

Therefore, the ChangingRISKS project will assess the changing patterns of landslide risks in the Alps (e.g. changes in landslide activity, changes in the location and in the sensitivity of the risk areas) by developing and implementing a methodology to analyse quantitatively the impacts of global environmental change (climate, landuse, socio-economy) on mountain slopes exposed to several landslide types. The methodology will be applied to two case study regions, located in distinct environmental, socio-economic and cultural settings across the Alps (in France, and in Austria).

Project Objectives


The project has the main objectives (1) to define the potential impacts of global environmental changes (climate system, ecosystem e.g. landuse, socio-economic system) on landslide hazards, (2) to analyse these consequences in terms of vulnerability (e.g. changes in the location and characteristics of the impacted areas and level of their perturbation) and (3) to implement a strategy for quantitatively investigating and mapping indicators of mountain slope vulnerability exposed to several landslide types.