Overland flow generation in chaparral ecosystems: Temporal and spatial variability

B. Valeron, T. Meixner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fire is an important and natural process in the lifecycle of chaparral systems, removing old growth and recycling nutrients. Recent catastrophic wildfires in southern California chaparral have heightened concerns about increased runoff and nutrient export. The goal of this study was to improve understanding of how overland flow is generated in unburned and post-fire chaparral watersheds. Samples of overland flow were collected from burned and unburned watersheds after rainfall events and multiple regression analysis was used to examine the influence of individual storm characteristics and system moisture on overland flow volume. The results indicate that variation in overland flow generation in the unburned watershed is best explained by storm size, while overland flow in the burned watershed was positively related to storm size and time between storms. These findings suggest that the burned system had decreased infiltration rates and increased soil water repellency. In contrast, there is a statistically significant negative relationship between overland flow 1 year after a fire against different system and precipitation factors revealed a negative correlation with drying period and a positive relationship with rainfall intensity, a combination that suggests reduced repellency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-75
Number of pages11
JournalHydrological Processes
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

Keywords

  • Chaparral
  • Fire
  • Hydrophobicity
  • Overland flow
  • Post-fire recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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