Climate change and landslides
Climate change and landslides

The effects of climate change have wide reaching consequences for people living in hilly and steep mountain terrain. Landslides are one of those, which re-occur as a result of rainfall, permafrost degradation and deglaciation. For a number of years we have focused on this problem, with the goal to understand and quantify resultant hazard and risks, and develop techniques to forecast and provide early warning of potential disasters.


The Great Aletsch glacier located in the European Alps is currently undergoing rapid retreat. As a consequence, several rock slope instabilities are responding to those rapid changes with increasing activity – when and what will happen next?

We’ve been studying interactions between glacier retreat and rock slope instability since 2008 – our findings have relevance for all mountainous regions undergoing deglaciation as a result of climate change.


The distribution and velocity of displacements from terrestrial remote sensing (e.g. portable radar interferometer), on a rapidly retreating glacier. The displacement map shows 2.5 mm of movement occurring with a 20 minute period. Although the displacement map shows quite rapid movement, for a glacier, the technique can be used remotely for permanent monitoring.


Adjacent to the retreating glacier shown above, is a large deep seated rock slope instability. The image shows the distribution and velocity of displacements measured with terrestrial remote sensing (e.g. portable radar interferometer). The displacements were measured in late summer, with a magnitude of 3.0 cm over a 3 month period.


Since 2007, we’ve been pioneering the development of applications in portable radar interferometry. The techniques are suitable for detecting and quantifying the distribution and velocity of movements occurring as a result of landslides, unstable rock slopes, rock glaciers, snow avalanches and glaciers. The technique can be integrated within an early warning system.