Developing an Earth observation-based landslide monitoring and forecast system: Ongoing efforts and future perspectives in Nepal

Date 6 Aug 2021
Venue MS Teams
Contact Persons
Type Workshop
Programmes SERVIR-HKH

ICIMOD’s SERVIR-HKH Initiative, a joint initiative of USAID and NASA, is working on developing a landslide monitoring and forecast system to automate EO-based monitoring of landslides in the region with support from scientists and researchers from NASA. To this end, we are organizing a consultation workshop to bring together key stakeholders – government and non-government organizations, academic, scientists and international agencies working on monitoring and mitigation of landslides – to explore the feasibility of developing a landslide monitoring system within Nepal and quantify the needs of regional entities to develop systems to better address stakeholder decision-making, and planning for disaster response. 

  • Bring together stakeholders working on landslide studies and discuss current needs for Nepal
  • Share knowledge on innovations in monitoring and forecasting landslides
  • Discuss data and information needs to develop a reliable landslide monitoring and forecast system
  • Discuss potential collaborations



Nepal is highly vulnerable to landslides, debris flows, soil erosion and mass wasting phenomena. Each year, landslides destroy buildings, agricultural land, forests, roads, hydropower projects, and public infrastructure, killing an average of 200 people in Nepal. The Gorkha Earthquake in 2015 induced about 20,000 landslides, by enlarging old landslides or triggering new landslides, causing massive destruction across 14 districts. In the aftermath, understanding the distribution and characteristics of earthquake-induced landslides and quantifying associated hazards and risks received renewed focus. However, rainfall is the primary trigger of landslides in Nepal, causing movement of new material and re-mobilization of co-seismic landslides following the Gorkha earthquake. In 2020, more than 300 deaths related to rainfall-induced landslides were reported across Nepal, highlighting the need for near real-time landslide monitoring and forecasting systems that can identify areas susceptible to landslides and alert vulnerable populations.

Recent advancements in Earth observation (EO) techniques have enabled the development and operationalization of systems that enable monitoring and near real-time modelling of landslides. EO combined with landslide monitoring and a forecast system including mapping, modelling, and exposure estimation has made landslide hazard predictions at large scales a possibility requiring minimal human effort. Combining susceptibility models with satellite-based precipitation and modelled precipitation forecasts has enabled nowcasting and forecasting of rainfall-induced landslide hazards. Empirical models combining EO and modelled seismic data has also been successful to predict near real-time earthquake-induced landslide activities and impacts.

Tentative agenda

Moderator: Sudan Bikash Maharjan, Remote Sensing Analyst, ICIMOD

  • Friday 6 August 2021, 16:00-18:00 NPT
    Time Programme Speaker/resource persons
    16:00–16:05 Welcome remarks Basanta Shrestha, Director – Strategic Cooperation, ICIMOD
    16:05–16:10 Initiative background and introductionObjectives of workshop, past efforts, present needs Birendra Bajracharya, Chief of Party –SERVIR-HKH, ICIMOD
    16:10–16:45 Presentations on landslide studies in Nepal:
    The role of the Department of Mines and Geology in the field of landslides Suchita Shrestha, Senior Divisional Geologist, Department of Mines and Geology (DMG), Government of Nepal (GoN)
    NSET’s initiatives on landslide mapping, assessment and management Ramesh Guragain, Deputy Executive Director, National Society for Earthquake Technology – Nepal (NSET)
    Understanding landslide risks in Nepal Ananta MS Pradhan, Senior Divisional Engineering Geologist, Water Resource Research and Development Centre (WRRDC), GoN
    Local partnership in transdisciplinary research and resilience building for landslide risk reduction in Nepal Dharam Raj Uprety, Thematic Lead for Climate and Resilience, Practical Action Nepal
    Understanding spatio-temporal variation of landslides for disaster risk reduction in the Nepal Himalayas Basanta Raj Adhikari, Assistant Professor, Institute of Engineering (IoE), Tribhuvan University (TU)
    16:45–17:05   Dalia B. Kirschbaum, Chief of the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/ Emerging technologies on landslides SERVIR-Mekong
    17:05–17:55 Panel discussion Moderator: Mir A. Matin, Science and Data Lead – SERVIR-HKH, ICIMOD
    17:55–18:00 Way forward and closing Birendra Bajracharya, Chief of Party – SERVIR-HKH, ICIMOD