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Prediction of spatially explicit rainfall intensity–duration thresholds for post-fire debris-flow generation in the western United States

Geomorphology

By:
ORCID iD , , ORCID iD , , ORCID iD , and ORCID iD
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.10.019

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Abstract

Early warning of post-fire debris-flow occurrence during intense rainfall has traditionally relied upon a library of regionally specific empirical rainfall intensity–duration thresholds. Development of this library and the calculation of rainfall intensity-duration thresholds often require several years of monitoring local rainfall and hydrologic response to rainstorms, a time-consuming approach where results are often only applicable to the specific region where data were collected. Here, we present a new, fully predictive approach that utilizes rainfall, hydrologic response, and readily available geospatial data to predict rainfall intensity–duration thresholds for debris-flow generation in recently burned locations in the western United States. Unlike the traditional approach to defining regional thresholds from historical data, the proposed methodology permits the direct calculation of rainfall intensity–duration thresholds for areas where no such data exist. The thresholds calculated by this method are demonstrated to provide predictions that are of similar accuracy, and in some cases outperform, previously published regional intensity–duration thresholds. The method also provides improved predictions of debris-flow likelihood, which can be incorporated into existing approaches for post-fire debris-flow hazard assessment. Our results also provide guidance for the operational expansion of post-fire debris-flow early warning systems in areas where empirically defined regional rainfall intensity–duration thresholds do not currently exist.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Prediction of spatially explicit rainfall intensity–duration thresholds for post-fire debris-flow generation in the western United States
Series title:
Geomorphology
DOI:
10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.10.019
Volume:
278
Year Published:
2017
Language:
English
Publisher:
Elsevier
Contributing office(s):
Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description:
14 p.
First page:
149
Last page:
162
Country:
United States