Exploring the Downsides of Gravity
People generally consider gravity to be a good thing. However, gravity can sometimes cause rocks and soil to fail, causing landslides that pose significant risk to peoples’ lives, livelihoods and infrastructure.
Gravity doesn’t act alone to cause landslides. Rather, there is a very strong relationship between weather events and slope instability. Since climate change is expected to increase both the amount of precipitation and the frequency and severity of extreme rainfalls in Canada, it has the potential to have significant consequences on the magnitude and frequency of landslides.
Dr. Andy Take, Canada Research Chair in Geotechnical Engineering, aims to better understand the complex links between climate and slope instability. His discoveries will help him answer a number of questions about the nature of these effects, including: Will a higher total amount of precipitation and increased severity of extreme rainfall events make landslides more catastrophic as well as more frequent? How can we protect against these events? How can we develop better monitoring tools to watch for the early warning signs of future slope instability? How can we protect infrastructure against slope movements driven by climate change?
By conducting laboratory experiments under highly controlled climate scenarios, Take is analyzing the soil behaviour that leads to landslides being triggered. He is also developing monitoring tools to observe landslide behaviour in the field.
Take’s research will lead to better understanding and management of the risks that climate change poses to the soil slopes of Canada’s natural and built environment.