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Title: Key factors controlling the post-fire hydrological and erosive response at micro-plot scale in a recently burned Mediterranean forest
Author: Vieira, D. C. S.
Malvar, M. C.
Martins, M. A. S.
Serpa, D.
Keizer, J. J.
Keywords: Wildfire
Land management
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Elsevier
Abstract: The impacts of wildfires on the hydrological and erosive response of forest ecosystems have been extensively studied worldwide. Nevertheless, few studies have measured post-fire runoff and erosion over large time scales in Mediterranean-climate type environments and even fewer studies considered the effects of pre-fire land management practices on post-fire hydrological and erosive processes. In a previous study in the Colmeal study area, Vieira et al. (2016) revealed that post-fire runoff and erosion may not follow the classic window of disturbance model, since the peak of post-fire response occurred in the second and third years after fire. This previous study also showed that pre-fire land management can substantially influence the post-fire response, since annual runoff and erosion were lower in pre-fire unplowed than plowed sites. In this follow-up work, a multiple regression model (MRM) analysis was performed to understand how several key factors influence the hydrological and erosive response of a burned Mediterranean forest, taking into account the wildfire; pre-fire land management practices (unplowed, downslope plowed, and contour plowed) and soil moisture conditions. Based on the results of the present study, post-fire runoff was largely explained by rainfall amounts and soil water repellency (SWR)-related variables, whereas erosion processes were better explained by rainfall intensity and ground cover variables. Fewer factors were found to control the hydrological response of plowed sites when compared to the unplowed site. Aside from rainfall intensity, which was the major factor controlling sediment losses, bare soil cover also seems to have been important for erosion processes at the unplowed site, whereas at the plowed sites stone cover was the second most relevant factor. Rainfall-related variables (rainfall and maximum 30-min rainfall intensity) were more important for explaining runoff and erosion under dry conditions than under wet conditions. The results of the MRM analysis are an important contribution to understand the dynamics of burned forest areas and should be considered when adapting hydrological and erosion models to post-fire environments.
Peer review: yes
DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.07.014
ISSN: 0169-555X
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