Five-fold rise seen in UK landslides

Over the last 14 months there has been a five-fold increase in reported landslides in the UK, scientists say.

The British Geological Survey (BGS) has over 16,000 records of landscapes, used to compare variations over time.

In one month alone - December 2012 - there were 75 UK landslides, compared with a typical annual average of 60.

The link between heavy rainfall in 2012 and landslides in the same period was reported at the British Science Festival in Newcastle.

"We saw significant increases, particularly in July 2012," said Dr Helen Reeves of the BGS. Extreme weather seems responsible for a huge increase in slope destabilisation, following changes in water loading in the rocks and soils of saturated land, she reported.

The Met Office has released the annual rainfall data for 2012, the second wettest year on record.

Dr Reeves explained how comparing this with the reports of landslides in the same period it appears that about two fifths of the landslide events happened in soil and rock near the surface soon after a short burst of heavy rainfall, but the build up of rainfall over the two months preceding a landslide seems responsible for the deeper landslides making up the remaining three fifths.


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