NASA is Expanding its Worldwide Landslide Data Catalog Using Volunteers

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In order to build more accurate predictive models of when and where landslides might occur, researchers need the most current and accurate information about previous landslides.  NASA has developed Landslide Reporter as a way to collect as much information as possible about landslides from citizen scientists from around the world.  According to Dalia Kirschbaum, a landslide expert at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “We do not know the true distribution of where and when landslides happen. By engaging citizen scientists in the process of finding and documenting these events, we hope to move the community closer to a global awareness of landslide occurrence and impacts.”

Landslide Reporter was developed to fill in the gaps from existing sources of landslide data.  Until its development, the  Cooperative Open Online Landslide Repository (COOLR) which collects and distributes landslide data pulled much of its data from English language news reports, leaving large gaps in its inventory.  A study recently published in PLOS ONE analyzed the efficacy of using citizen scientists to enhances NASA’s landslide inventory database. The study found that between March 2018 to April 2019, 49 citizen scientists contributed 162 new landslide events to COOLR.  This data collection spanned 37 countries in five continents. Furthermore, the study noted that the Landslide Reporter application was able to fill in “data gaps through news sources in 11 different languages, in-person observations, and new landslide events occurring hundreds and thousands of kilometers away from any existing [Global Landslide Catalog] GLC data.”

This map created by NASA shows how data points collected via the Landslide Reporter application are filling in gaps in landslide data coverage. Map: Lauren Dauphin, NASA.

This map created by NASA shows how data points collected via the Landslide Reporter application are filling in gaps in landslide data coverage. Map: Lauren Dauphin, NASA.

The data housed in COOLR can be accessed with GIS software.  Via the Landslide Viewer’s “Download the full Landslide Catalog” option, users can download GIS landslide data in either file geodatabase (.gdb), shapefile (.shp), or comma-separated values (.csv) file formats.

NASA has also produced a tutorial explaining how to download and export the .gdb data for using in ArcGIS or QGIS:

More:

Juang, C. S., Stanley, T. A., & Kirschbaum, D. B. (2019). Using citizen science to expand the global map of landslides: Introducing the Cooperative Open Online Landslide Repository (COOLR). PloS one14(7), e0218657. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218657

Citizen Scientists Find Undocumented Landslides, NASA Earth Observatory

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