Drainage networks after wildfire

International Journal of Sediment Research
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Predicting runoff and erosion from watersheds burned by wildfires requires an understanding of the three-dimensional structure of both hillslope and channel drainage networks. We investigate the small-and large-scale structures of drainage networks using field studies and computer analysis of 30-m digital elevation model. Topologic variables were derived from a composite 30-m DEM, which included 14 order 6 watersheds within the Pikes Peak batholith. Both topologic and hydraulic variables were measured in the field in two smaller burned watersheds (3.7 and 7.0 hectares) located within one of the order 6 watersheds burned by the 1996 Buffalo Creek Fire in Central Colorado. Horton ratios of topologic variables (stream number, drainage area, stream length, and stream slope) for small-scale and large-scale watersheds are shown to scale geometrically with stream order (i.e., to be scale invariant). However, the ratios derived for the large-scale drainage networks could not be used to predict the rill and gully drainage network structure. Hydraulic variables (width, depth, cross-sectional area, and bed roughness) for small-scale drainage networks were found to be scale invariant across 3 to 4 stream orders. The relation between hydraulic radius and cross-sectional area is similar for rills and gullies, suggesting that their geometry can be treated similarly in hydraulic modeling. Additionally, the rills and gullies have relatively small width-to-depth ratios, implying sidewall friction may be important to the erosion and evolutionary process relative to main stem channels.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Drainage networks after wildfire
Series title International Journal of Sediment Research
Volume 20
Issue 3
Year Published 2005
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title International Journal of Sediment Research
First page 194
Last page 201