Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Daniel G. NearyKaren A. Koestner; Ann Youberg
    Date: 2011
    Source: Paper presented at the 24th Annual Symposium of the Arizona Hydrological Society; Watersheds near and far: Response to changes in climate and landscape; September 18-20, 2010; Flagstaff, AZ. 8 p.
    Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (584.54 KB)

    Description

    Wildfire is a natural disturbance with epic potential to drastically alter watershed hydrologic condition. Basins with high-burn severity, especially those with steep previously forested terrain, have flashier hydrographs and can produce peak-flows orders of magnitude greater than pre-fire conditions. This is due to fundamental changes in the hydrology of burnt watersheds, especially in the short term (1-3 years). Consumption of the canopy and forest-floor organic horizon that formerly intercepted precipitation, moderated infiltration, and protected mineral soil, results in decreased evapotranspiration and infiltration, and increased runoff. Further, newly exposed soil surfaces are subject to rain-drop erosion, which may be exacerbated by fire induced soil-water repellency. Though the hydrologic impacts of high-severity wildfire have been well documented in the scientific literature, the socio-political ramifications of a latent, continuous, and highly unpredictable disturbance regime (i.e. post-fire flooding and sedimentation) has not been addressed. Fires are increasing in size, frequency, and severity. Simultaneously, development continues in the wildland-urban interface and the number of people living in or visiting forest areas is growing. Understanding the post-fire hydrologic response of watersheds is paramount for effective risk management and mitigation of post-fire hydrologic and geomorphic hazards. Equally important is educating communities that are at high-risk for post-fire flooding and sedimentation hazards. This presentation encompasses research on hydrologic and geomorphic impacts of past fires, a real-time perspective on recent post-fire hazards and mitigation (including the 2010 Schultz Fire and others). It identifies some high-risk areas where opportunity exists to educate and prepare the public for post-fire hazards after wildfires.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to rmrspubrequest@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Neary, Daniel G.; Koestner, Karen A.; Youberg, Ann. 2011. Hydrologic impacts of high severity wildfire: Learning from the past and preparing for the future. Paper presented at the 24th Annual Symposium of the Arizona Hydrological Society; Watersheds near and far: Response to changes in climate and landscape; September 18-20, 2010; Flagstaff, AZ. 8 p.

    Keywords

    wildfire, watershed, erosion, hydrologic impacts

    Related Search


    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page
https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/40608