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Burned forests impact water supplies

Year:

2018

Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Southern Research Station

Source:

Nature Communications

Description

Wildland fire impacts on surface freshwater resources have not previously been measured, nor factored into regional water management strategies. But, large wildland fires are increasing and raise concerns about fire impacts on potable water. Here we synthesize longterm records of wildland fire, climate, and river flow for 168 locations across the United States. We show that annual river flow changed in 32 locations, where more than 19% of the basin area was burned. Wildland fires enhanced annual river flow in the western regions with a warm temperate or humid continental climate. Wildland fires increased annual river flow most in the semi-arid Lower Colorado region, in spite of frequent droughts in this region. In contrast, prescribed burns in the subtropical Southeast did not significantly alter river flow. These extremely variable outcomes offer new insights into the potential role of wildfire and prescribed fire in regional water resource management, under a changing climate.

Citation

Hallema, Dennis W.; Sun, Ge; Caldwell, Peter V.; Norman, Steven P.; Cohen, Erika C.; Liu, Yongqiang; Bladon, Kevin D.; McNulty, Steven G. 2018. Burned forests impact water supplies. Nature Communications. 8 p.  10.1038/s41467-018-03735-6

Cited

Publication Notes

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/56093