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Wind erosion of soils burned by wildfire

Author(s): Natalie S. Wagenbrenner, Matthew J. Germino, Brian K. Lamb, Randy B. Foltz, Peter R. Robichaud
Year Published: 2011

Wind erosion and aeolian transport processes are largely unstudied in the post-wildfire environment, but recent studies have shown that wind erosion can play a major role in burned landscapes. A wind erosion monitoring system was installed immediately following a wildfire in southeastern Idaho, USA to measure wind erosion from the burned area. This paper describes initial findings related to horizontal sediment flux and PM10 (particulate matter with a diameter of less than 10 m) emissions from the burned area. Several wind erosion events were monitored in the months following the fire. The largest wind erosion event to-date occurred in early September 2010 and produced 570 kg m-1 of horizontal sediment transport within the first meter above the soil surface and generated a large dust plume that was visible in satellite imagery. The peak PM10 concentration measured on-site at a height of 2 m in the downwind portion of the burned area was 690 mg m-3. Measured horizontal sediment fluxes and PM10 vertical fluxes are on the upper end of values reported in the wind erosion literature. These initial results indicate that wildfire can convert a relatively wind-resistant landscape into one that produces as much soil and dust as some of the most wind erodible landscapes known, including the US southern high plains and the Loess Plateau in China.

Citation: Wagenbrenner, N.S.; Germino, Matthew J.; Lamb, B.K.; Foltz, Randy B.; Robichaud, Peter R. 2011. Wind erosion of soils burned by wildfire. In: Erosion and landscape evolution, proceedings. 2011 September 18-21; Anchorage AK. ISELE Paper Number 11021. 9 p.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Soil Heating, Ecological - Second Order, Soils
Ecosystem(s): Sagebrush steppe
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 11492
FRAMES RCS number: 13331
Record updated: Nov 15, 2017