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Title: Simulating Surface and Subsurface Water Balance Changes Due to Burn Severity

Abstract

Forest fires have a significant impact on hydrology, such as reduced infiltration rates leading to increased flooding. However, post-fire water balance changes and the competing hydrologic response of increased runoff and evapotranspiration as a function of burn severity are not well understood. Comparing pre- and post-fire water balance changes is challenging because measurements of fire-disturbed landscapes with the previously undisturbed character are impractical due to non-repetitive observational conditions. We used a physically based modeling experiment to incorporate burn severity data from the Las Conchas fire to approximate model parameterization to evaluate continuous water balance progression for pre- and post-fire simulations using the same forcing conditions. Fire disturbance decreased evapotranspiration and increased overland flow response to precipitation events. The reduction of evapotranspiration often dominated the new water balance compared with the increase in overland flow, resulting in higher soil moisture. However, this modeling experiment also identified a tipping point where increased overland flow from high burn severity sites eclipses the effect of reduced evapotranspiration on the water balance, causing comparatively drier post-fire soils. In particular, high burn severity sites approach a threshold that results in larger changes to overland flow than changes in evapotranspiration, potentially moving the site to an overlandmore » flow dominated regime. The shifts in water balance components have implications for how site conditions will change under a range of burn severity scenarios.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [2];  [3];  [4]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  2. San Diego State Univ., CA (United States)
  3. California State Univ. (CalState), Long Beach, CA (United States)
  4. Bandelier National Monument, Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1544718
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-18-26917
Journal ID: ISSN 1539-1663
Grant/Contract Number:  
89233218CNA000001
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Vadose Zone Journal
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 17; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 1539-1663
Publisher:
Soil Science Society of America
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Earth Sciences

Citation Formats

Atchley, Adam L., Kinoshita, Alicia M., Lopez, Sonya R., Trader, Laura, and Middleton, Richard. Simulating Surface and Subsurface Water Balance Changes Due to Burn Severity. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2136/vzj2018.05.0099.
Atchley, Adam L., Kinoshita, Alicia M., Lopez, Sonya R., Trader, Laura, & Middleton, Richard. Simulating Surface and Subsurface Water Balance Changes Due to Burn Severity. United States. doi:10.2136/vzj2018.05.0099.
Atchley, Adam L., Kinoshita, Alicia M., Lopez, Sonya R., Trader, Laura, and Middleton, Richard. Thu . "Simulating Surface and Subsurface Water Balance Changes Due to Burn Severity". United States. doi:10.2136/vzj2018.05.0099. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1544718.
@article{osti_1544718,
title = {Simulating Surface and Subsurface Water Balance Changes Due to Burn Severity},
author = {Atchley, Adam L. and Kinoshita, Alicia M. and Lopez, Sonya R. and Trader, Laura and Middleton, Richard},
abstractNote = {Forest fires have a significant impact on hydrology, such as reduced infiltration rates leading to increased flooding. However, post-fire water balance changes and the competing hydrologic response of increased runoff and evapotranspiration as a function of burn severity are not well understood. Comparing pre- and post-fire water balance changes is challenging because measurements of fire-disturbed landscapes with the previously undisturbed character are impractical due to non-repetitive observational conditions. We used a physically based modeling experiment to incorporate burn severity data from the Las Conchas fire to approximate model parameterization to evaluate continuous water balance progression for pre- and post-fire simulations using the same forcing conditions. Fire disturbance decreased evapotranspiration and increased overland flow response to precipitation events. The reduction of evapotranspiration often dominated the new water balance compared with the increase in overland flow, resulting in higher soil moisture. However, this modeling experiment also identified a tipping point where increased overland flow from high burn severity sites eclipses the effect of reduced evapotranspiration on the water balance, causing comparatively drier post-fire soils. In particular, high burn severity sites approach a threshold that results in larger changes to overland flow than changes in evapotranspiration, potentially moving the site to an overland flow dominated regime. The shifts in water balance components have implications for how site conditions will change under a range of burn severity scenarios.},
doi = {10.2136/vzj2018.05.0099},
journal = {Vadose Zone Journal},
number = 1,
volume = 17,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {10}
}

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