Abstract

In this contribution, past process activity is reconstructed on seven landslide bodies of the Riou Bourdoux catchment (southeastern French Alps). Based on an unusually dense data set of 3036 tree-ring series extracted from 759 conifers, we provide evidence for 61 landslide reactivations since A.D. 1898. Based on logistic regressions and threshold analyses of monthly rainfall data and temperature anomalies, we determine that the combination of snow-rich winters and positive temperature anomalies in spring (enhanced snowmelt) seems to have driven landslide reactivations in the past. Since the early 1990s, however, landslide reactivations clearly have been on the rise and thereby exhibit excessive and unprecedented rates of activity (12.5 events per 10 yr) at the scale of the Riou Bourdoux catchment. From the data, evidence exists for a shift from snowmelt-induced landslides (controlled by winter precipitation) to reactivations controlled by spring temperatures. Therefore, this contribution also adds evidence to the hypothesis that climate change (and related warmer springs) could further enhance landslide activity in the course of the 21st century.

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