Submitted to: Trans American Geophysical Union
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/17/2006
Publication Date: 12/11/2006
Citation: Pierson, F.B., Robichaud, P.R., Elliot, W.J., Hall, D.E., and Moffet, C.A. 2006. ERMIT: Estimating post-fire erosion in probabilistic terms. Eos Transactions, American Geophysical Union 87(52), Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract H34C-01. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Mitigating the impact of post-wildfire runoff and erosion on life, property, and natural resources have cost the United States government tens of millions of dollars over the past decade. The decision of where, when, and how to apply the most effective mitigation treatments requires land managers to assess the risk of damaging runoff and erosion events occurring after a fire. The Erosion Risk Management Tool (ERMiT) is a web-based application that estimates erosion in probabilistic terms on burned and recovering forest, range, and chaparral lands. Unlike most erosion prediction models, ERMiT does not provide ‘average annual erosion rates;' rather, it provides a distribution of erosion rates with the likelihood of their occurrence. ERMiT combines rain event variability with spatial and temporal variabilities of hillslope burn severity, soil properties, and ground cover to estimate Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model input parameter values. Based on 20 to 40 individual WEPP runs, ERMiT produces a distribution of rain event erosion rates with a probability of occurrence for each of five post-fire years. Over the 5 years of modeled recovery, the occurrence probability of the less erodible soil parameters is increased and the occurrence probability of the more erodible soil parameters is decreased. In addition, the occurrence probabilities and the four spatial arrangements of burn severity (arrangements of overland flow elements (OFE's)), are shifted toward lower burn severity with each year of recovery. These yearly adjustments are based on field measurements made through post-fire recovery periods. ERMiT also provides rain event erosion rate distributions for hillslopes that have been treated with seeding, straw mulch, straw wattles and contour-felled log erosion barriers. Such output can help managers make erosion mitigation treatment decisions based on the probability of high sediment yields occurring, the value of resources at risk for damage, cost, and other management considerations.