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Research Project: ARS Support to National Burned Area Emergency Response Agencies Through use of the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) Tool

Location: Southwest Watershed Research Center

2013 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
The objective of this project is to quantitatively link burn severity with existing watershed scale hydrology and erosion models to assess risk to aquatic resources and downstream communities.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The research and analysis will identify: 1) what parts of the burned landscape is most susceptible to post-fire runoff, 2) what are the expected inputs to water bodies from different burn severities given associated landscape characteristics, and 3) what are potential impacts to aquatic resources and downstream communities from those impacts? The project will also provide technical support to BAER teams completing burned area assessments during the fire season and off-season training for appropriate GIS and hydrology personnel in the operation of the AGWA model. The support will also include on-site or remote support to the National BAER Teams during the assessment phase of Burned Area Emergency Response.

3. Progress Report:
This project contributes to objective 3 of the in-house project, "Develop improved watershed model components and decision support systems that more fully utilize and assimilate economic and remotely sensed data for parameterization, calibration and model state adjustment". In FY13, we conducted a webinar providing an overview of the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) capabilities for rapid post-fire watershed assessments. Several modifications were programmed into AGWA to make it easier to use for Burn Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams. Due to travel restrictions, an in-person training session of AGWA for BAER teams was conducted via webinar. Participants were pleased with the improvements to AGWA as well as the webinar based training. Two persons of the AGWA team deployed for seven days (July 26-August 1, 2013) with the BAER team on the Mountain fire in Palm Springs, California. AGWA was used to assess potential risks of post-fire erosion and downstream flooding. Results from the model will be contained in the BAER team report which is provided to local, state, and Federal emergency response agencies.

4. Accomplishments