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Journal of Mountain Science

, 6:362 | Cite as

The critical rainfall characteristics for torrents and debris flows in the Wenchuan earthquake stricken area

  • Ningsheng Chen
  • Chenglin Yang
  • Wei Zhou
  • Guisheng Hu
  • Huan Li
  • David Hand
Article

Abstract

Critical rainfall assessment is a very important tool for hazard management of torrents and debris flows in mountainous areas. The Wenchuan Earthquake 2008 caused huge casualties and property damages in the earthquake-stricken area, which also generated large quantities of loose solid materials and increased occurrence probabilities of debris flows. There is an urgent need to quantify the critical rainfall distribution in the area so that better hazard management could be planned and if real time rainfall forecast is available, torrent and debris flow early-warning could be issued in advance. This study is based on 49-year observations (1954–2003) of up to 678 torrent and debris flow events. Detailed contour maps of 1 hour and 24 hour critical rainfalls have been generated (Due to the data limitation, there was insufficient 10 minute critical rainfall to make its contour map). Generally, the contour maps from 1 hour and 24 hours have similar patterns. Three zones with low, medium and high critical rainfalls have been identified. The characteristics of the critical rainfall zones are linked with the local vegetation cover and land forms. Further studies and observations are needed to validate the finding and improve the contour maps.

Key words

Debris flow Mountain torrent Earthquake-stricken area Critical rainfall 

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ningsheng Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chenglin Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guisheng Hu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Huan Li
    • 3
  • David Hand
    • 4
  1. 1.Key Lab of Mountain Hazards and Surface ProcessesChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  2. 2.Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesChengduChina
  3. 3.College of Water Resource & Hydropower of SCUChengduChina
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of BristolBristolUK

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