On a Slippery Slope: Assessing Landslide Hazard in East Africa

EarthzineDEVELOP 2015 Summer VPS, DEVELOP Virtual Poster Session, Investigating Impacts of Fire and Landslide Disasters

This is an article from the Summer 2015 VPS. For more VPS articles, click here

Hazard Potential Map variables. Image Credit: East Africa Disasters Team

Hazard Potential Map variables. Image Credit: East Africa Disasters Team

Category:åÊInvestigating Impacts of Fire and Landslide Disasters

Project Team: East Africa Disasters

Team Location: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) – Huntsville, Alabama


Leigh Sinclair

Padraic Conner

Tyler Finley

Jeann̩ le Roux


Dr. Jeffrey Luvall (NASA MSFC at National Space Science and Technology Center)

Dr. Robert Griffin (University of Alabama in Huntsville)


The International Emergency Disasters Database indicates that 482 people have been killed and another 27,530 have been affected by landslides in Rwanda and Uganda, although the actual numbers are thought to be much higher. Data for individual countries are poorly tracked, but hotspots for devastating landslides occur throughout Rwanda and Uganda due to the local topography and soil type, intense rainfall events, and deforestation. In spite of this, there has been little research in this region that utilizes satellite imagery to estimate areas susceptible to landslides. This project utilized Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) data and Google Earth to identify landslides that occurred within the study area. These landslides were then added to SERVIR’s Global Landslide Catalog (GLC). Next, Landsat 8 OLI, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM), and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Version 2 (SRTM V2) data were used to create a Landslide Susceptibility Map. This was combined with population data from the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) to create a Landslide Hazard map. A preliminary assessment of the relative performance of GPM and TRMM in identifying landslide conditions also was performed. The additions to the GLC, the Landslide Susceptibility Map, the Landslide Hazard Map, and the preliminary assessment of satellite rainfall performance will be used by SERVIR and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) for disaster risk management, land-use planning, and determining landslide conditions and moisture thresholds.

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