Estimating post-fire debris-flow hazards prior to wildfire using a statistical analysis of historical distributions of fire severity from remote sensing data

International Journal of Wildland Fire
By: , and 

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Abstract

Following wildfire, mountainous areas of the western United States are susceptible to debris flow during intense rainfall. Convective storms that can generate debris flows in recently burned areas may occur during or immediately after the wildfire, leaving insufficient time for development and implementation of risk mitigation strategies. We present a method for estimating post-fire debris-flow hazards prior to wildfire using historical data to define the range of potential fire severities for a given location based on the statistical distribution of severity metrics obtained from remote sensing. Estimates of debris-flow likelihood, magnitude, and triggering rainfall threshold based upon the statistically simulated fire severity data provide hazard predictions consistent with those calculated from fire severity data collected after wildfire. Simulated fire severity data also produce hazard estimates that replicate observed debris-flow occurrence, rainfall conditions, and magnitude at a monitored site in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California. Future applications of this method should rely upon a range of potential fire severity scenarios for improved pre-fire estimates of debris-flow hazard. The method presented here is also applicable to modeling other post-fire hazards, such as flooding and erosion risk, and for quantifying trends in observed fire severity in a changing climate.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Estimating post-fire debris-flow hazards prior to wildfire using a statistical analysis of historical distributions of fire severity from remote sensing data
Series title International Journal of Wildland Fire
DOI 10.1071/WF17122
Volume 27
Issue 9
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher CSIRO
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 14 p.
First page 595
Last page 608
Country United States
State California, Colorado, Washington
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