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A coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical model for physically-based assessments of slope stability accounting for climate change

Project description

A new slant on climate change impact on soil slopes and landslides

Research into the effects of climate change is necessary to prevent further damage to people and property. Currently, scientists suggest climate change, sea level change, land use modifications, and ice cover shifts will result in an increase in the frequency of landslides, as well as a change in their patterns. In turn, this will cause irreparable damage to communities, ecosystems, and infrastructure. The EU-funded SLOPETEMP project aims to investigate the effects of climate change on slope stability, which is linked to temperature increases and the frequency and intensity of rainstorms. The project will then use its findings to develop improved tools for hazard assessment.


Climate change will alter the frequency and patterns of landslides, increasing the risk to people, infrastructures, and ecosystems in many regions worldwide. Scientists mainly draw this conclusion from predicted changes in precipitation, ice covers, sea level, and land use. The direct effect of temperature on slope stability is usually neglected, even though a mechanical failure in various soils appears to be dependent on their thermal state. Temperature-dependent behaviours in soils have been documented in several laboratory experiments and field studies. I plan to use for the first time a coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical (THM) soil model based on the theory of hypoplasticity to better quantify the effects of climate patterns on slope stability. By this model, implemented in an in-house code, I expect to be able to reproduce complex hydro-mechanical responses caused by changes of temperature, including effects on water pressures, water retention, and swelling/shrinkage. I will perform short- and long-term parametric analyses under climate scenarios, to compare the direct role of temperature with that of other forcings. In this way, I expect to quantify how much local warming/cooling and altered patterns of temperature can control some types of landslides, and consequently affect current landslide hazard assessments. I plan to investigate an actual case study as well, to verify the model performance under complex boundary conditions, and demonstrate its applicability to practical slope-scale problems. Finally, I will conceptualise an upscaled model, to unlock the possibility of regional assessments. This project is in line with the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change as well as with the Sendai Framework of the UNDRR because, by improving the knowledge on the behaviour of soil slopes under climate forcing, it will offer physically-based tools for hazard assessment that could be integrated into national and European risk management systems.


Net EU contribution
€ 156 980,64
Ovocny trh 560/5
116 36 Praha 1

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Česko Praha Hlavní město Praha
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00