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Using Logistic Regression to Predict the Probability of Debris Flows in Areas Burned by Wildfires, Southern California, 2003-2006

Open-File Report 2008-1370

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Abstract

Logistic regression was used to develop statistical models that can be used to predict the probability of debris flows in areas recently burned by wildfires by using data from 14 wildfires that burned in southern California during 2003-2006. Twenty-eight independent variables describing the basin morphology, burn severity, rainfall, and soil properties of 306 drainage basins located within those burned areas were evaluated. The models were developed as follows: (1) Basins that did and did not produce debris flows soon after the 2003 to 2006 fires were delineated from data in the National Elevation Dataset using a geographic information system; (2) Data describing the basin morphology, burn severity, rainfall, and soil properties were compiled for each basin. These data were then input to a statistics software package for analysis using logistic regression; and (3) Relations between the occurrence or absence of debris flows and the basin morphology, burn severity, rainfall, and soil properties were evaluated, and five multivariate logistic regression models were constructed. All possible combinations of independent variables were evaluated to determine which combinations produced the most effective models, and the multivariate models that best predicted the occurrence of debris flows were identified. Percentage of high burn severity and 3-hour peak rainfall intensity were significant variables in all models. Soil organic matter content and soil clay content were significant variables in all models except Model 5. Soil slope was a significant variable in all models except Model 4. The most suitable model can be selected from these five models on the basis of the availability of independent variables in the particular area of interest and field checking of probability maps. The multivariate logistic regression models can be entered into a geographic information system, and maps showing the probability of debris flows can be constructed in recently burned areas of southern California. This study demonstrates that logistic regression is a valuable tool for developing models that predict the probability of debris flows occurring in recently burned landscapes.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Using Logistic Regression to Predict the Probability of Debris Flows in Areas Burned by Wildfires, Southern California, 2003-2006
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
2008-1370
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2008
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
Description:
iv, 9 p.
Online Only (Y/N):
Y