Establishing Quantitative Relations between Remotely Sensed Burn Severity and Hydraulic Parameters

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The wildland-urban interface extends into many small headwater catchments, which are commonly sources of post-wildfire water-related problems such as flooding and debris flows. This exposure puts human life and health, homes, transportation infrastructure, and water quality at risk. Physical representation of post-wildfire infiltration, runoff generation, and associated water-related risk is a major challenge for current empirical and numerical models. Next-generation post-wildfire assessment models will likely be physically-based, serving as complementary alternatives to the empirically-based and multi-variable regression models in current use. Thus, the foundation for future models will be accurate characterization of wildfire effects on hydraulic parameters. This project is developing quantitative relations between remotely-sensed burn severity derived from Landsat imagery and hydraulic parameters measured from field samples. Because the soil-hydraulic property measurements are spatially tied to Landsat images, future alternative burn severity metrics derived from Landsat or hyperspectral imagery could be used to modify the quantitative relations without any re-measurement. The quantitative relations will be representative of common fire-affected vegetation types and landscapes in New Mexico, with potential application extendable to Arizona, Utah, and Colorado.

Author Name
Brian Ebel, Deborah Martin, John Moody, Orlando Romero
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