EGU General Assembly 2008
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  Information - NH4.15 The role of plants on slope stability and the impacts of climate change and land-use change on landslides (co-listed in BG, CL & SSS)

Event Information
Vegetation, climate change and anthropogenic activity can all affect, positively or negatively, slope stability and landslide evolution. These factors are often inter-related and hence are considered together in this session. Slope instability is one of the most important natural hazards that threatens humanity.
Such instability may be either anthropogenically induced by land-use change or induced by natural events such as rainfall, flood, earthquake or freeze-thaw. This session will consider the effects of land-use and climate change on instability, primarily from the point of view of deteriorating conditions and the potential benefits in terms of increased stability that may be accrued by the judicious planting of vegetation.
(1) The role of vegetation cover will be highlighted from a geo-technical point of view. The existence of plants affects the strength characteristics of soil material and also hydrological characteristics of the slope. Furthermore, a vegetative system enhances the biological activities in the soil, which also affects the physical and chemical characteristics of soil and natural drainage system of the slope. Plants can be used for specific soil bioengineering techniques as living construction material for civil engineering structures. For the establishment of such techniques as standardized civil engineering methods the dynamic interaction processes must be quantified between the living plant construction material (vegetative system) and the soil (geo system). This is essential for a consolidated knowledge about the effects of plants (support, anchor, drain, reinforce and armour).
(2) We will also address some current and future challenges regarding the assessments of climate and land use changes on landslide activity. The evidence of a general global warming trend is overwhelming. At present, however, the resulting future climate change scenarios are somewhat variable, particularly at a regional level. It follows that a range of possible climate change impacts on slope stability, both negative and positive, need to be considered. It is also recognised that assessments of the temporal impacts of climate change on slope stability are difficult, not least because the historical information on landslide activity is typically episodic and often incomplete. Modifications to slopes by man are capable of both improving and worsening the stability of slopes at a rate exceeding that of recent climatic or geomorphic change; this will add an additional layer of complexity to the analysis of such slopes. It is these issues that have been particularly addressed by the Climate Impact Forecasting for Slopes (CLIFFS) in the UK.
We hope to publish the outcomes of the session in a special issue of the Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology international refereed journal.

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