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The Norwegian landslide early warning service turns 10 years old

Published: 10/26/2023

On the 21st of October 2013, Norway launched its national landslide early warning service, which has played a pivotal role in increasing awareness and knowledge about landslides, debris flows, debris avalanches, and slushflows. The service provides early warnings, allowing people and emergency operators to take necessary actions, preventive measures, and be better prepared for possible incidents.

The rubber boots that illustrate the warning levels used in the Norwegian flood and landslide early warning system. Photo: Hervé Colleuille/NVE.

Norway was among the first countries to establish a nationwide operational landslide early warning service, managed by a collaboration between the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), the Meteorological Institute (MET), and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (NPRA). The service includes hydrologists and geologists, with 15 employees from NVE and 3 from NPRA.

Weather data from MET is crucial for assessing landslide and slushflow hazards, with daily briefings between and the landslide forecasters and the MET meteorologists. The service covers mainland Norway, providing daily hazard assessments using mathematical models, taking into account factors like precipitation, snowmelt, groundwater levels, past events, and regional susceptibility.

Over the past decade, the landslide early warning service issued over 800 warnings, averaging between 30 and 120 per year. These warnings primarily fell under the yellow level (92%), with orange (7%) and red (1%) being less common. The region’s most frequently warned, often at severe levels, include Trøndelag, Innlandet, Viken, and Vestlandet. Conversely, Oslo, Agder, Rogaland, and inner parts of Finnmark received the fewest warnings. In 2020, 2014, and 2013, the highest number of warnings were issued.

Over the past decade, the Norwegian landslide early warning service has played an important role in fostering global collaboration among researchers and practitioners. This effort led to the creation of LandAware, an international network for LEWS, following workshops in Oslo (2016) and Perugia (2020). The Norwegian service actively participates in workshops and meetings within this network.

To adapt to climate change and changing weather patterns, continuous development of the service is essential to provide more precise and localized warnings. The service has significantly improved social security by raising awareness and enabling preventive actions. Future development is vital to address the increasing risks posed by climate change.

You can also read more about the 10-year anniversary on the LandAware Blogg.

Useful tools developed by NVE in collaboration with MET and NPRA:

  •  Varsom.no is your main source for warning notifications and knowledge about natural hazards in Norway.
  • At Abonner.varsom.no you can subscribe to receive land-based natural hazard warnings from NVE and MET by e-mail and SMS, as soon as they are published. The service is free.
  • On Regobs.no you can register, share observations and/or read about events related to snow avalanches, floods, landslides, and ice conditions. The information can also be found in the Varsom app, which can be downloaded from the  App Store or Google Play.
  • Xgeo.no  is our experts' source of data used for the daily hazard assessment of flood, snow avalanche and landslides.
  • At Naturhendelser (varsom.no) we publish digital reports that describe significant weather-related events that have caused past floods, landslides, and other natural hazards in Norway.