Rapid Response Tools and Datasets for Post-fire Erosion Modeling: Lessons Learned from the Rock House and High Park Fires

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Conference Paper/Presentation

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Once the danger posed by an active wildfire has passed, land managers must rapidly assess the threat from post-fire runoff and erosion due to the loss of surface cover and fire-induced changes in soil properties. Increased runoff and sediment delivery are of great concern to both resource managers and the public. On federal lands post-fire assessments and proposals to mitigate these threats are typically undertaken by interdisciplinary Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams, while local teams are formed to address issues on burned lands managed by state and local governments. These teams are under very tight deadlines, so they often begin their analysis while the wildfire is still burning and typically must complete their plans within a couple of weeks. Many modeling tools and datasets have been developed over the years to assist BAER teams, but process-based and spatially explicit empirical models are currently under-utilized relative to simpler, lumped models because they are both more difficult to set up and require the preparation of spatially-explicit data layers such as digital elevation models, soils, and land cover. We are currently working to change this by preparing spatial data sets ahead of time that can be rapidly combined with burn severity maps and then used in spatially explicit process-based and empirical models for predicting post-fire erosion and run-off. Data is being gathered to support three models: GeoWEPP (Renschler 2003) used with Disturbed WEPP (Elliot 2004) input parameters, Ravel Rat a dry ravel model currently under development (Fu 2004), and for a spatial empirical debris flow model (Cannon et al. 2010)

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© 2013 American Geophysical Union

Publication Title

AGU Chapman Conference 2013