climate impact forecasting for slopes
 CLIFFS  is an EPSRC-funded network based at Loughborough University aiming to bring together  academics, R&D agencies, stakeholders, consultants and climate specialists to improve  forecasting of slope instability in the context of progressive climate change



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climate impact forecasting for slopes



Scottish Road Network Landslides Study

In August 2004 Scotland experienced rainfall substantially in excess of the norm. The rainfall was both intense and long lasting and a large number of landslides, in the form of debris flows, were experienced in the hills of Scotland. A small number of these intersected with the trunk road network, notably the A83 between Glen Kinglas and to the north of Cairndow (9 August), the A9 to the north of Dunkeld (11 August), and the A85 at Glen Ogle (18 August).

While major injuries were avoided, some 57 people were taken to safety by helicopter after being trapped between the two debris flows on the A85 in Glen Ogle (see cover picture). The A85, carrying up to 5,600 vehicles per day, was closed for four days. The A83, which carries around 5,000 vehicles per day, was closed for two days; and the A9, carrying 13,500 vehicles per day, was closed for two days prior to reopening. The disruption experienced by local and tourist traffic, as well as to goods vehicles, was substantial.






                                                                                                                               Figure 2.7 View of the second and larger of the A85 Glen Ogle
                                                                                                            debris flows, showing the sharp bend in the channel just above road level.

The need to act was recognised by Transport Scotland and an initial study was commissioned and the results published in the Summer of 2005.

The study dealt with the following activities:

    Considering the options for undertaking a detailed review of side slopes adjacent to the trunk road network and recommending a course of action.

    Outlining possible mitigation measures and management strategies that might be adopted.

    Undertaking an initial review to identify obvious areas that have the greatest potential for similar events in the future.

Both the Technical Report (Winter et al., 2005a) and the supporting Summary Report (Winter et al., 2005b) may be downloaded from:

Also available from this web page are links to reports on climate change which were produced in parallel with the landslides study.

This work led to a second phase which is ongoing; this includes the development of a system to allow a detailed review of the network to be undertaken to identify the locations of greatest hazard and for those hazards to be ranked and appropriate mitigation and/or management measures to be selected.

The overall purpose of these studies is thus to ensure that Transport Scotland has a system in place for assessing the hazards posed by debris flows. In addition, the system will rank the hazards in terms of their potential relative effects on road users. This will ensure that the exposure of road users to the consequences of future debris flow events is minimised whilst acknowledging that it is not possible to prevent the occurrence of such events.

A consistent, repeatable and reproducible system is required. This is especially important as a variety of consultants is likely to be involved in the data gathering, analysis and interpretation process. It is apparent at the outset that a unified system acceptable to all of the major players in the industry is required.

It was thus recognised at an early stage of the development of the work that the input of a wide range of experts and stakeholders would be required in order for the studies to be completed successfully.

The study is led by the following, who would be delighted to answer any questions and queries:

Dr Mike Winter, TRL Limited

Forbes Macgregor, Consultant to Transport Scotland

Lawrence Shackman, Transport Scotland


Winter, M. G., Macgregor, F. & Shackman, L. (Editors). 2005a. Scottish Road Network Landslide Study. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive. 

Winter, M. G., Macgregor, F. & Shackman, L. 2005b. Scottish Road Network Landslide Study Summary Report. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.





core partners



British Waterways

CF Skanska



Highways Agency

Isle of Wight Council

Mott MacDonald



and Universities of:



Imperial College




Nottingham Trent

Queen's Belfast