Rain-induced landslides rank among the most devastating natural disasters. Nearly every year worldwide they cause billions of dollars in property damage and thousands of deaths.
Society has dealt with landslide hazards primarily by trying to locate development away from known hazard zones, but such an approach has limitations. Overpopulation and associated sprawl into hazardous areas, plus environmental impacts such as deforestation and mining, increasingly put large numbers of people at risk from landslides. Yet most developing countries, particularly those in high-risk areas of the tropics, lack the data infrastructure and analysis capabilities required to minimize injuries and deaths due to landslides. The challenges facing the science community include better understanding the surface and meteorological processes that lead to landslides and determining how new technology and techniques might be applied to reduce the risk of landslides to people across the globe.