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How is rockfall risk impacted by land-use and land-cover changes? Insights from the French Alps

Abstract : Due to intense urban sprawl in rockfall-prone areas, a precise rockfall risk assessment has become a crucial issue for public authorities and stakeholders. In this context, quantitative risk analysis (QRA) procedures, accounting for the specificities of the rockfall process, have been developed. For the last few decades, several studies have examined the impacts of global warming on rockfall activity, especially at high-altitude sites. However, the influence of land-use and land-cover (LULC) changes, very frequent at lower altitudes and in the vicinity of urbanised areas, on rockfall propagation and associated risks has received little attention.This study proposes a holistic QRA on a municipality scale (the municipality of Crolles, in the French Alps) that includes both all the potential release areas at the whole cliff scale and a wide spectrum of rockfall volumes randomly extracted from volume classes distributed between 1 and 20 m(3). In addition, to quantify precisely the effect of LULC changes on rockfall risk, four characteristic scenarios representative of LULC changes observed in the municipality and more generally in the Alps since the mid-19th century, have been included in the analysis.The results demonstrate the significant impacts of landscape reorganisation on the spatial distribution of risk with increasing forest cover, which can be counterbalanced by evolving LULC in a transition unit located between the forest strip and the urban front. They also evidence that a large proportion of the risk is explained by small block volumes, which are the most affected by landscape structure and evolution. From a practical point of view, and despite several uncertainties related to different modelling assumptions, the results reported herein clearly demonstrate the applicability and the value of QRA for rockfall risk management at a municipality scale in a context of rapid and intense environmental changes.
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Submitted on : Thursday, October 21, 2021 - 8:14:06 PM
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Manon Farvacque, Jérôme Lopez-Saez, Christophe Corona, David Toe, Franck Bourrier, et al.. How is rockfall risk impacted by land-use and land-cover changes? Insights from the French Alps. Global and Planetary Change, Elsevier, 2019, 174, pp.138-152. ⟨10.1016/j.gloplacha.2019.01.009⟩. ⟨hal-01994621⟩



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