October 25, 2023

Coupling wildfire spread and erosion models to quantify post-fire erosion before and after fuel treatments

Author: M. Salis, L. Del Giudice, P. R.Robichaud, A. A. Ager, A. Canu, P. Duce, G. Pellizzaro, A. Ventura, F.Alcasena-Urdiroz, D. Spano and B. Arca

Year: 2019

Journal: International Journal of Wildland Fire

Abstract: Wildfires are known to changepost-fire watershed conditions such that hillslopes can become prone toincreased erosion and sediment delivery. In this work, we coupled wildfirespread and erosion prediction modelling to assess the benefits of fuel reductiontreatments in preventing soil runoff. The study was conducted in a 68 000-haforest area located in Sardinia, Italy. We compared no-treatment conditions v.alternative strategic fuel treatments performed in 15% of the area. Firebehaviour before and after treatments was estimated by simulating 25 000wildfires for each condition using the minimum travel time fire-spreadalgorithm. The fire simulations replicated historic conditions associated withsevere wildfires in the study area. Sediment delivery was then estimated usingthe Erosion Risk Management Tool (ERMiT). Our results showed how post-firesediment delivery varied among and within fuel treatment scenarios. The mostefficient treatment alternative was that implemented near the road network. We alsoevaluated other factors such as exceedance probability, time since fire, slope,fire severity and vegetation type on post-fire sediment delivery. This workprovides a quantitative assessment approach to inform and optimise proactiverisk management activities intended to reduce post-fire erosion.

URL: https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/treesearch/58627




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