Modeling potential erosion due to the Cerro Grande fire with a GIS-based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation

Jay D. Miller, John W. Nyhan, Stephen Yool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Erosional processes directly influenced by wildland fire include reduction or elimination of above-ground biomass, reduction of soil organic matter, and hydrophobicity. High fuel loads promoted by decades of fire suppression in the U.S. increase the duration and intensity of burning, amplifying these effects. The Cerro Grande fire (6-31 May 2000) consumed approximately 15 000 hectares around and within the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA. Private and public infrastructure including Los Alamos National Laboratory are at continuing risk due to increased threats of upstream erosion. We use a geographic information system (GIS) based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) to model pre- and post-fire soil loss conditions and aid erosion risk analysis. Pre- and post-fire vegetation cover data layers were generated from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) data. Based upon annual average rainfall amounts we estimate that subwatershed average pre-fire erosion rates range from 0.45 to 9.22 tonnes ha-1 yr-1 while post-fire erosion rates before watershed treatments range from 1.72 to 113.26 tonnes ha-1 yr-1. Rates are approximately 3.7 times larger for 50 year return interval rainfall amounts. It is estimated that watershed treatments including reseeding will decrease soil loss between 0.34 and 25.98% in the first year on treated subwatersheds. Immediately after the fire an interagency Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) team produced initial estimates of soil erosion. Our estimates of average erosion rates by subwatershed were in general larger than those initial estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-100
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003

Fingerprint

Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation
geographic information systems
erosion
subwatersheds
modeling
erosion rate
rain
fire suppression
rehabilitation (people)
geographic information system
risk analysis
watershed
Landsat
wildfires
hydrophobicity
rainfall
vegetation cover
infrastructure
towns
soil erosion

Keywords

  • Cover factor
  • Rainfall-runoff erosivity factor
  • Slope length and steepness factor
  • Soil erodibility
  • Watershed
  • Wildland fire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Modeling potential erosion due to the Cerro Grande fire with a GIS-based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation. / Miller, Jay D.; Nyhan, John W.; Yool, Stephen.

In: International Journal of Wildland Fire, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2003, p. 85-100.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{c0c0c2e2fe654736bfab848fcd16aeab,
title = "Modeling potential erosion due to the Cerro Grande fire with a GIS-based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation",
abstract = "Erosional processes directly influenced by wildland fire include reduction or elimination of above-ground biomass, reduction of soil organic matter, and hydrophobicity. High fuel loads promoted by decades of fire suppression in the U.S. increase the duration and intensity of burning, amplifying these effects. The Cerro Grande fire (6-31 May 2000) consumed approximately 15 000 hectares around and within the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA. Private and public infrastructure including Los Alamos National Laboratory are at continuing risk due to increased threats of upstream erosion. We use a geographic information system (GIS) based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) to model pre- and post-fire soil loss conditions and aid erosion risk analysis. Pre- and post-fire vegetation cover data layers were generated from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) data. Based upon annual average rainfall amounts we estimate that subwatershed average pre-fire erosion rates range from 0.45 to 9.22 tonnes ha-1 yr-1 while post-fire erosion rates before watershed treatments range from 1.72 to 113.26 tonnes ha-1 yr-1. Rates are approximately 3.7 times larger for 50 year return interval rainfall amounts. It is estimated that watershed treatments including reseeding will decrease soil loss between 0.34 and 25.98{\%} in the first year on treated subwatersheds. Immediately after the fire an interagency Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) team produced initial estimates of soil erosion. Our estimates of average erosion rates by subwatershed were in general larger than those initial estimates.",
keywords = "Cover factor, Rainfall-runoff erosivity factor, Slope length and steepness factor, Soil erodibility, Watershed, Wildland fire",
author = "Miller, {Jay D.} and Nyhan, {John W.} and Stephen Yool",
year = "2003",
doi = "10.1071/WF02017",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "12",
pages = "85--100",
journal = "International Journal of Wildland Fire",
issn = "1049-8001",
publisher = "CSIRO",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Modeling potential erosion due to the Cerro Grande fire with a GIS-based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation

AU - Miller, Jay D.

AU - Nyhan, John W.

AU - Yool, Stephen

PY - 2003

Y1 - 2003

N2 - Erosional processes directly influenced by wildland fire include reduction or elimination of above-ground biomass, reduction of soil organic matter, and hydrophobicity. High fuel loads promoted by decades of fire suppression in the U.S. increase the duration and intensity of burning, amplifying these effects. The Cerro Grande fire (6-31 May 2000) consumed approximately 15 000 hectares around and within the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA. Private and public infrastructure including Los Alamos National Laboratory are at continuing risk due to increased threats of upstream erosion. We use a geographic information system (GIS) based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) to model pre- and post-fire soil loss conditions and aid erosion risk analysis. Pre- and post-fire vegetation cover data layers were generated from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) data. Based upon annual average rainfall amounts we estimate that subwatershed average pre-fire erosion rates range from 0.45 to 9.22 tonnes ha-1 yr-1 while post-fire erosion rates before watershed treatments range from 1.72 to 113.26 tonnes ha-1 yr-1. Rates are approximately 3.7 times larger for 50 year return interval rainfall amounts. It is estimated that watershed treatments including reseeding will decrease soil loss between 0.34 and 25.98% in the first year on treated subwatersheds. Immediately after the fire an interagency Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) team produced initial estimates of soil erosion. Our estimates of average erosion rates by subwatershed were in general larger than those initial estimates.

AB - Erosional processes directly influenced by wildland fire include reduction or elimination of above-ground biomass, reduction of soil organic matter, and hydrophobicity. High fuel loads promoted by decades of fire suppression in the U.S. increase the duration and intensity of burning, amplifying these effects. The Cerro Grande fire (6-31 May 2000) consumed approximately 15 000 hectares around and within the town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA. Private and public infrastructure including Los Alamos National Laboratory are at continuing risk due to increased threats of upstream erosion. We use a geographic information system (GIS) based implementation of the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) to model pre- and post-fire soil loss conditions and aid erosion risk analysis. Pre- and post-fire vegetation cover data layers were generated from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) data. Based upon annual average rainfall amounts we estimate that subwatershed average pre-fire erosion rates range from 0.45 to 9.22 tonnes ha-1 yr-1 while post-fire erosion rates before watershed treatments range from 1.72 to 113.26 tonnes ha-1 yr-1. Rates are approximately 3.7 times larger for 50 year return interval rainfall amounts. It is estimated that watershed treatments including reseeding will decrease soil loss between 0.34 and 25.98% in the first year on treated subwatersheds. Immediately after the fire an interagency Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) team produced initial estimates of soil erosion. Our estimates of average erosion rates by subwatershed were in general larger than those initial estimates.

KW - Cover factor

KW - Rainfall-runoff erosivity factor

KW - Slope length and steepness factor

KW - Soil erodibility

KW - Watershed

KW - Wildland fire

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0344089188&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0344089188&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1071/WF02017

DO - 10.1071/WF02017

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:0344089188

VL - 12

SP - 85

EP - 100

JO - International Journal of Wildland Fire

JF - International Journal of Wildland Fire

SN - 1049-8001

IS - 1

ER -