Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Landslides and Extreme Weather: Understanding How Climate Change Impacts Coastal Mountain Watersheds
Precipitation triggered landslides are a common hazard in coastal British Columbia, a result of glacially over-steepened terrain and a wet climate. Climate change portends more frequent and more intense storms along the coast of the Pacific Northwest, thereby changing one of the two major drivers of coastal instability. This talk explains what changes we can expect based on two distinct approaches. The first approach models landslide frequencies and denudation over the last 10,000 years. This approach reconstructs paleo-climates from vegetation records, and by links those records to established relationships between landslide frequencies and precipitation. The impact of human activities in the last 100 years is also examined for comparison. The second approach examines in detail the impacts of a specific storm and demonstrates regionally, the major contributing factors to slope failure. The understanding of how landscapes respond during extreme events is critical as storm frequencies increase.