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  1. Abstract

    The potentially important influence of climate change on landscape evolution and on critical zone processes is not sufficiently understood. The relative contribution of hydro‐climatic factors on hillslope erosion rates may significantly vary with topography at the watershed scale. The objective of this study is to quantify the hydro‐geomorphic behavior of two contrasting landscapes in response to different climate change scenarios in the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory, a site of particular geomorphological interest, in terms of hillslope erosion and rainfall‐triggered landslides. We investigate the extent to which hillslope erosion and landslide occurrence remain relatively invariant with future hydro‐climatic perturbations. The adjacent Mameyes and Icacos watersheds are studied, which are underlain by contrasting lithologies. A high resolution coupled hydro‐geomorphic model based on tRIBS (Triangulated Irregular Network‐based Real‐time Integrated Basin Simulator) is used. Observations of landslide activity and hillslope erosion are used to evaluate the model performance. The process‐based model quantifies feedbacks among different hydrologic processes, landslide occurrence, and topsoil erosion and deposition. Simulations suggest that the propensity for landslide occurrence in the Luquillo Mountains is controlled by tropical storms, subsurface water flow, and by non‐climatic factors, and is expected to remain significant through 2099. The Icacos watershed, which is underlain by quartz diorite, is dominated by relatively large landslides. The relative frequency of smaller landslides is higher at the Mameyes watershed, which is underlain by volcaniclastic rock. While projections of precipitation decrease at the study site may lead to moderate decline in hillslope erosion rates, the simulated erosional potential of the two diverse landscapes likely remains significant. © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

     
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