Variability in Streamflow Following Wildfire in the Sierra Nevada's

Authors: Lacy Monier*, Texas A&M University
Topics: Biogeography, Mountain Environments, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: Streamflow, Wildfire, Water Management
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Bridging the knowledge gap between resource management and ecological effects in response to wildfire, especially concerning water resource availability, is crucial. Understanding the impacts of fire on streamflow in order to account for changes in water availability in regions with high water demands such as the state of California is imperative for proper water management. Due to past wildfire suppression practices, many ecosystems around the globe have been impacted by means of overcrowded forests, alterations to the vegetation species composition, and loss of biodiversity. These changes, in turn alter the behavior of wildfire when it does occur and therefore, changes how the ecosystem responds. Generating a better understanding how wildfire influences streamflow throughout the state of California is imperative for water managers to better address changes in flow patterns and ecological responses. This study used five years of pre-burn river discharge and five years of post-burn river discharge with accompanying rainfall data in order to determine whether or not there was a change in streamflow following the burning of the watershed within the Sierra Nevada. Event-based regression models were then used to quantify any change in streamflow, with additional statistical analysis to determine any latitudinal differences in streamflow response between the northern, central, or southern Sierra Nevada. These findings are important due to the magnitude at which the state of California relies on safe and multi-beneficial water management and storage to deal with variability in the state's water supply.

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