Advances in the Assessment of Fire Impacts on Hydrology

A special issue of Fire (ISSN 2571-6255).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2023) | Viewed by 18792

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Natural Resources Management and Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, 11855 Athens, Greece
Interests: earth observation; GIS; agriculture; geomorphology; natural resources; disasters
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Dynamic Tectonic and Applied Geology, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimioupoli Zografou, Athens, Greece
Interests: extreme events; flash flooding; flood mortality; risk perception; hydrogeomorphological disasters; landslides
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Fire activity, either natural or human-caused, continues to increase around the globe and has a negative effect on the capacity of ecosystems to benefit humans. Although forest fires are an integral part of some forest ecosystems (especially Mediterranean) the enhanced frequency of catastrophic wildfires tends to increase runoff volume, flow velocity, and erosivity. Thus, an increased frequency of forest fires leads to a need to understand the subsequent post-fire hydrological risks and the runoff, erosion and depositional responses of burned watersheds.

Wildfires can change the landscape immediately, extensively, and with long-term effects. One of the most significant effects of the wildfires is the removal of protective vegetation, which can radically change the hydrologic response of burned watersheds. Hydrological response can be also indirectly affected by the disturbances of the soil properties of the area. The destruction of the top soil organic matter, which leads to the destabilization of the soil structure and the increased ground coverage from ash may exacerbate the impacts of water repellency. Additionally, their potential to disrupt a broad range of ecohydrological processes and functions, such as interception, infiltration, evapotranspiration, and storage can result in increase of overland flow, rapid runoff responses, elevated erosion and high loads of sediment and debris delivery to streams, and greater potential for mass movements and landslides.

Higher runoff rates from severely burned landscapes can lead to flooding and increased risk to human life and property. Increased soil erosion over natural levels following wildfire can lead to loss of soil productivity and a decline in rangeland health. These impacts may also lead to deteriorated physical and chemical water quality, with potentially substantial and long-lasting effects on freshwater, such as the provision of community drinking water supply or recreational water uses.

Introduction of new effective policies that are able to reduce post-fire effects and fire risk and/or its impacts, requires a good understanding of how fire affects the structure and functioning of watersheds.

Numerous methods, techniques and software tools, varying in conceptualization and complexity, are available for modeling hydrological processes. In general, these models account for the pertinent aspects of the landscape, including land cover, soils, and geomorphology. However, the implementation of any solution necessitates a thorough collection of post-fire data (e.g., biomass, burn severity, species regeneration, vegetation-type succession, hydrometeorological conditions, soil properties) in order to detect and specify environmental changes, hydrological alterations and trends. Therefore, remotely sensed data and Geographical Information System analysis are thoroughly used for fire management programs and post-fire impact assessment in hydrological processes.

This Special Issue aims to review and synthesize all the contributions and the newest progress of methodologies and models, assisted by the innovative tools of remote sensing and GIS, in post-fire effects on surface hydrology, in addition to intents to describe the fire regime and the nature and duration of post-fire effects on a range of hydrologic features and to propose a research schedule that can address key knowledge gaps in post-fire hydrology.

Topics

The prospective authors are encouraged to submit articles broadening the current understanding of post-fire hydrology including, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Hydrologic Analyses of Post-wildfire conditions;
  • Hydrological modelling of burned watersheds ;
  • Remote Sensing and GIS applications in post-fire effects;
  • UAV and LiDAR in post-fire impact on hydrological processes;
  • The role of fire in ecosystems functioning and watershed’s hydrological conditions;
  • Wildfire Impacts on watershed hydrology ;
  • Assessment of post-fire soil and vegetation conditions;
  • Assessment of post-fire soil hydraulic properties;
  • Pre- and post-fire flood and landslide frequency and risk;
  • Erosion processes and sedimentation estimation.

Dr. Emmanouil Psomiadis
Dr. Konstantinos X. Soulis
Dr. Michalis Diakakis
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Fire is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • post-fire hydrological processes
  • hydrological modelling
  • remote sensing
  • GIS
  • UAV
  • LiDAR
  • floods
  • erosion

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

14 pages, 3624 KiB  
Article
Fire Impacts on Water Resources: A Remote Sensing Methodological Proposal for the Brazilian Cerrado
by Gustavo Willy Nagel, Lino Augusto Sander De Carvalho, Renata Libonati, Andressa Karen da Silva Nemirovsky and Mercedes Maria da Cunha Bustamante
Fire 2023, 6(5), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire6050214 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2387
Abstract
Fire events are increasing in frequency, duration, and severity worldwide. The combination of ash and uncovered land might increase the transportation of pollutants into the streams, potentially affecting the water supply systems. The intensifying fires in Brazil’s Cerrado biome, responsible for 70% of [...] Read more.
Fire events are increasing in frequency, duration, and severity worldwide. The combination of ash and uncovered land might increase the transportation of pollutants into the streams, potentially affecting the water supply systems. The intensifying fires in Brazil’s Cerrado biome, responsible for 70% of the country’s water supply, give rise to profound ecological, climatic, and socio-economic concerns that require urgent and effective mitigation strategies. However, little attention has been paid to the consequences of fire events on water resources in the region. In this study, the Fire Impact on Water Resources Index (FIWRI) is proposed and applied in six different water supply watersheds to analyse fire behaviour from 2003 to 2020 and its potential impact on inland water bodies. This is the first remote-sensing-based index for fire impact on water resources developed for the Brazilian territory, to support water management on a watershed scale and uses variables such as terrain slope, river proximity, and vegetation to classify fire events as having a low to high potential to contaminate water bodies. We observed that all six water supply watersheds suffered frequent fire events, with different FIWRI proportions, which ranged from High to Low FIWRI. The proposed index could be used in real-time fire monitoring alert systems in order to support water supply management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Assessment of Fire Impacts on Hydrology)
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17 pages, 3151 KiB  
Article
The Response of Soil Physicochemical Properties in the Hyrcanian Forests of Iran to Forest Fire Events
by Zahra Fadaei, Ataollah Kavian, Karim Solaimani, Leila Zandi Sarabsoreh, Mahin Kalehhouei, Víctor Hugo Durán Zuazo and Jesus Rodrigo-Comino
Fire 2022, 5(6), 195; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5060195 - 17 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1663
Abstract
When forest fires occur, highly complex effects on soil properties and hydrological processes are activated. However, in countries such as Iran, these consequences are not widely studied and there is a lack of studies. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to [...] Read more.
When forest fires occur, highly complex effects on soil properties and hydrological processes are activated. However, in countries such as Iran, these consequences are not widely studied and there is a lack of studies. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to investigate the effects of wildfire on soil quality characteristics in a representative forest area located in the Hyrcanian forests, specifically, in the Zarrinabad watershed of Sari. For this purpose, four different sites, including unburnt natural (UNF), burned natural (BNF), unburnt plantation (UPF), and burned plantation forests (BPF) were selected. Soil sampling was performed at each site using the random, systematic method at a depth from 0 to 30 cm. To investigate the effects of fire on physical and chemical properties indicators, 10 plots with dimensions of 0.5 × 0.5 m were placed at a distance of 1.5 m from each other at each site. Soil samples were transported to the laboratory and their physical and chemical properties were determined. The results showed that the percentage of sand, silt, aggregate stability, soil hydrophobicity, organic carbon, organic matter, soil total nitrogen, absorbable potassium and phosphorus, electrical conductivity, and pH, increased significantly when the soil surface is burned (p ≤ 0.01, p ≤ 0.05). However, clay percentage, initial, final, and average infiltration in the burned areas showed a decreasing trend in comparison with other forest statuses. Furthermore, no significant effects were observed on the true and bulk density, porosity, and soil moisture (p ≥ 0.05). These findings demonstrate that forest fire effects in Iran must be considered as a key topic for land managers because soil properties and hydrological processes are drastically modified, and land degradation could be irreparably activated. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Assessment of Fire Impacts on Hydrology)
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16 pages, 4082 KiB  
Article
Exploring the Role of Ash on Pore Clogging and Hydraulic Properties of Ash-Covered Soils under Laboratory Experiments
by Taehyun Kim, Jeman Lee, Ye-Eun Lee and Sangjun Im
Fire 2022, 5(4), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire5040099 - 13 Jul 2022
Viewed by 2104
Abstract
Fires can alter the hydraulic properties of burned soils through the consumption of organic matter on the ground surface. This study examined the effects of rainfall on the presence of soil pore clogging with varying ash layer thickness using laboratory rainfall simulator experiments. [...] Read more.
Fires can alter the hydraulic properties of burned soils through the consumption of organic matter on the ground surface. This study examined the effects of rainfall on the presence of soil pore clogging with varying ash layer thickness using laboratory rainfall simulator experiments. The image analysis with resin impregnation showed that rainfall impact caused plugging of soil pores at 22.2% with soil particles and 14.3% with ash particles on near surface soils (0–5 mm below). High rainfall intensities enhanced soil pore clogging by ash particles, particularly at shallow soil depths (0–10 mm). Ash deposits on the soil surface increased the water-absorbing capacity of ash-covered soils compared with that of bare soils. The rainfall simulation experiments also showed that ash cover led to a reduction in soil hydraulic conductivity, owing to the combined effects of surface crust formation and soil pore clogging. The complementary effects of soil pore clogging and water absorption by ash cover could hamper the accurate understanding of the soil hydrologic processes in burned soils. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Assessment of Fire Impacts on Hydrology)
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17 pages, 2188 KiB  
Article
Hydrological and Meteorological Controls on Large Wildfire Ignition and Burned Area in Northern California during 2017–2020
by Yusuke Hiraga and M. Levent Kavvas
Fire 2021, 4(4), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4040090 - 25 Nov 2021
Viewed by 3810
Abstract
This study examined the hydrological/meteorological controls on large wildfires > 10,000 acres (40.5 km2) during 2017–2020 in Northern California at spatial and temporal scales of the target wildfires’ occurrence or growth. This study used the following simple indices for analysis: Moisture [...] Read more.
This study examined the hydrological/meteorological controls on large wildfires > 10,000 acres (40.5 km2) during 2017–2020 in Northern California at spatial and temporal scales of the target wildfires’ occurrence or growth. This study used the following simple indices for analysis: Moisture Deficit Index (MDI) computed by dividing vapor pressure deficit by soil moisture, MDIWIND computed by multiplying MDI by horizontal wind speed, and MDIGUST computed by multiplying MDI by wind gust speed. The ignition location MDIWIND and MDIGUST showed larger values on the ignition date in fire-years compared to non-fire-years for most of the target wildfires (95.8% and 91.7%, respectively). The peak timing of MDIGUST, which is to evaluate the integrated effect of dry atmosphere/soil and windy condition, coincided with the ignition date for August Complex Fire 2020, Ranch Fire 2018, Claremont-Bear Fire 2020, and Camp Fire 2018. We also found that August Complex Fire 2020, Claremont-Bear Fire 2020, and Camp Fire 2018 occurred in the areas where MDIGUST became spatially and temporally high. Further, strong relationships were found between burned area sizes of the target wildfires and MDI (R = 0.62, p = 0.002), MDIWIND (R = 0.72, p < 0.001), and MDIGUST (R = 0.68, p < 0.001). Overall, the findings in this study implied the strong effect of dry atmosphere/soil and windy conditions on recent large wildfire activities in Northern California. The findings could contribute to a more temporally and spatially detailed forecast of wildfire risks or a better understanding of wildfires’ occurrence and growth mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Assessment of Fire Impacts on Hydrology)
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24 pages, 6451 KiB  
Article
Detecting and Monitoring Early Post-Fire Sliding Phenomena Using UAV–SfM Photogrammetry and t-LiDAR-Derived Point Clouds
by Georgios Deligiannakis, Aggelos Pallikarakis, Ioannis Papanikolaou, Simoni Alexiou and Klaus Reicherter
Fire 2021, 4(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4040087 - 20 Nov 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 4125
Abstract
Soil changes, including landslides and erosion, are some of the most prominent post-fire effects in Mediterranean ecosystems. Landslide detection and monitoring play an essential role in mitigation measures. We tested two different methodologies in five burned sites with different characteristics in Central Greece. [...] Read more.
Soil changes, including landslides and erosion, are some of the most prominent post-fire effects in Mediterranean ecosystems. Landslide detection and monitoring play an essential role in mitigation measures. We tested two different methodologies in five burned sites with different characteristics in Central Greece. We compared Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)-derived high-resolution Digital Surface Models and point clouds with terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR)-derived point clouds to reveal new cracks and monitor scarps of pre-existing landslides. New cracks and scarps were revealed at two sites after the wildfire, measuring up to 27 m in length and up to 25 ± 5 cm in depth. Pre-existing scarps in both Kechries sites appeared to be active, with additional vertical displacements ranging from 5–15 ± 5 cm. In addition, the pre-existing landslide in Magoula expanded by 8%. Due to vegetation regrowth, no changes could be detected in the Agios Stefanos pre-existing landslide. This high-spatial-resolution mapping of slope deformations can be used as landslide precursor, assisting prevention measures. Considering the lack of vegetation after wildfires, UAV photogrammetry has great potential for tracing such early landslide indicators and is more efficient for accurately recording soil changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Assessment of Fire Impacts on Hydrology)
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25 pages, 6526 KiB  
Article
Evaluating the Persistence of Post-Wildfire Ash: A Multi-Platform Spatiotemporal Analysis
by Sarah A. Lewis, Peter R. Robichaud, Andrew T. Hudak, Eva K. Strand, Jan U. H. Eitel and Robert E. Brown
Fire 2021, 4(4), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4040068 - 09 Oct 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2869
Abstract
As wildland fires amplify in size in many regions in the western USA, land and water managers are increasingly concerned about the deleterious effects on drinking water supplies. Consequences of severe wildfires include disturbed soils and areas of thick ash cover, which raises [...] Read more.
As wildland fires amplify in size in many regions in the western USA, land and water managers are increasingly concerned about the deleterious effects on drinking water supplies. Consequences of severe wildfires include disturbed soils and areas of thick ash cover, which raises the concern of the risk of water contamination via ash. The persistence of ash cover and depth were monitored for up to 90 days post-fire at nearly 100 plots distributed between two wildfires in Idaho and Washington, USA. Our goal was to determine the most ‘cost’ effective, operational method of mapping post-wildfire ash cover in terms of financial, data volume, time, and processing costs. Field measurements were coupled with multi-platform satellite and aerial imagery collected during the same time span. The image types spanned the spatial resolution of 30 m to sub-meter (Landsat-8, Sentinel-2, WorldView-2, and a drone), while the spectral resolution spanned visible through SWIR (short-wave infrared) bands, and they were all collected at various time scales. We that found several common vegetation and post-fire spectral indices were correlated with ash cover (r = 0.6–0.85); however, the blue normalized difference vegetation index (BNDVI) with monthly Sentinel-2 imagery was especially well-suited for monitoring the change in ash cover during its ephemeral period. A map of the ash cover can be used to estimate the ash load, which can then be used as an input into a hydrologic model predicting ash transport and fate, helping to ultimately improve our ability to predict impacts on downstream water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in the Assessment of Fire Impacts on Hydrology)
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