Heavy rainfall due to climate change increasing landslides, say experts

Source: The post is based on the article “Heavy rainfall due to climate change increasing landslides, say experts” published in Down To Earth on 6th July 2022.

What is the News?

According to researchers, climate change is triggering heavy rainfall leading to more landslides across the world.

What is the link between Climate Change and Landslides?

To understand this, the researchers studied the landslides in Himalayas and Western Ghats:

Landslides in the Himalayas

In India, about 73% of landslides in the Himalayas are caused by heavy precipitation and rainfall infiltration.

The other two factors triggering landslides in the Himalayas are also indirectly linked to rainfall: Water drawdown triggers 2% of landslides and soil erosion 14%.

Earthquakes trigger only 3% of the landslides in the Himalayas.

Note: The Himalayas are the collision zone of two tectonic plates, namely the Indian and Eurasian ones, and are very seismically active. 

Landslides in the Western Ghats

The researchers observed how rains trigger landslides in the Western Ghats. 

It found that with high rainfall in short durations of time, large-scale deforestation and change in land use, one important factor of the hydrological cycle — the infiltration phenomena — stops working effectively.

Due to this, water stops percolating and with change in vegetation patterns, the soil is losing its holding capacity. This causes water to collect over the ground, loosening the soil and leading to landslides and mudslides.

What did the researchers conclude from this study?

The researchers concluded that whether it’s the Himalayas or the Western Ghats, it’s climate change that is the driving factor for the increase in landslides.

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