Numerical modelling of slope–vegetation–atmosphere interaction: An overview

Gaetano Elia, Federica Cotecchia, Giuseppe Pedone, Jean Vaunat, Phil Vardon, Carlos Pereira, Sarah M. Springman, Mohamed Rouainia, John Van Esch, Eugeniusz Koda, Josif Josifovski, Alessandra Nocilla, Amin Askarinejad, Ross Stirling, Peter Helm, Piernicola Lollino, Piotr Osinski

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The behaviour of natural and artificial slopes is controlled by their thermo-hydro-mechanical conditions and by soil–vegetation–atmosphere interaction. Porewater pressure changes within a slope related to variable meteorological settings have been shown to be able to induce soil erosion, shrinkage–swelling and cracking, thus leading to an overall decrease of the available soil strength with depth and, ultimately, to a progressive slope collapse. In terms of numerical modelling, the stability analysis of partially saturated slopes is a complex problem and a wide range of approaches from simple limit equilibrium solutions to advanced numerical analyses have been proposed in the literature. The more advanced approaches, although more rigorous, require input data such as the soil water retention curve and the hydraulic conductivity function, which are difficult to obtain in some cases. The quantification of the effects of future climate scenarios represents an additional challenge in forecasting slope–atmosphere interaction processes. This paper presents a review of real and ideal case histories regarding the numerical analysis of natural and artificial slopes subjected to different types of climatic perturbations. The limits and benefits of the different numerical approaches adopted are discussed and some general modelling recommendations are addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalQuarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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