Remote rainfall sensing for landslide hazard analysis

Open-File Report 2001-339

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Methods of assessing landslide hazards and providing warnings are becoming more advanced as remote sensing of rainfall provides more detailed temporal and spatial data on rainfall distribution. Two recent landslide disasters are examined noting the potential for using remotely sensed rainfall data for landslide hazard analysis. For the June 27, 1995, storm in Madison County, Virginia, USA, National Weather Service WSR-88D Doppler radar provided rainfall estimates based on a relation between cloud reflectivity and moisture content on a 1 sq. km. resolution every 6 minutes. Ground-based measurements of rainfall intensity and precipitation total, in addition to landslide timing and distribution, were compared with the radar-derived rainfall data. For the December 14-16, 1999, storm in Vargas State, Venezuela, infrared sensing from the GOES-8 satellite of cloud top temperatures provided the basis for NOAA/NESDIS rainfall estimates on a 16 sq. km. resolution every 30 minutes. These rainfall estimates were also compared with ground-based measurements of rainfall and landslide distribution. In both examples, the remotely sensed data either overestimated or underestimated ground-based values by up to a factor of 2. The factors that influenced the accuracy of rainfall data include spatial registration and map projection, as well as prevailing wind direction, cloud orientation, and topography.

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USGS Numbered Series
Remote rainfall sensing for landslide hazard analysis
Series title:
Open-File Report
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Version 1.0
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i, 11 p.: ill. (some col.), col. maps ; 1 CD-ROM, 4 3/4 in.
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