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Research Project: Understanding Water-Driven Ecohydrologic and Erosion Processes in the Semiarid Southwest to Improve Watershed Management

Location: Southwest Watershed Research Center

Title: Predicting the floods that follow the flames

Author
item GOURLEY, J.J. - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
item VERGARA, H. - University Of Oklahoma
item ARTHUR, A. - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item CLARK III, R.A. - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item STALEY, D. - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item FULTON, J. - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item HEMPEL, L. - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Goodrich, David - Dave
item ROWDEN, K. - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
item ROBICHAUD, P.R. - Us Forest Service (FS)

Submitted to: Bulletin of the American Meterological Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2020
Publication Date: 7/21/2020
Citation: Gourley, J., Vergara, H., Arthur, A., Clark Iii, R., Staley, D., Fulton, J., Hempel, L., Goodrich, D.C., Rowden, K., Robichaud, P. 2020. Predicting the floods that follow the flames. Bulletin of the American Meterological Society. 101. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-20-0040.1.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-20-0040.1

Interpretive Summary: More than 40 participants, representing government agencies in research, training, and operations; nongovernmental organizations; emergency management; and academia, met for two days in person and online to discuss the monitoring technologies, forecasting tools, and community mitigation efforts in preparation for flash flooding, severe erosion, and debris flows that often follow wildfires. Post-wildfire hydrologic responses cross multiple scientific disciplines and affect several government agencies. Perhaps as a result, there is no single program designed to unite the scientific community and coordinate research efforts targeting the common goal of reducing the effects of post-wildfire flash flooding, severe erosion, and debris flows on local communities. Complex terrain challenges operational observing and forecasting systems. Wildfires are increasing in size, duration, and magnitude, while communities continue to develop in proximity to forests extending the wildland–urban interface. All these factors point to a future with potentially more devastating and frequent flash floods, severe erosion, and debris flows following wildfire. The report concludes by stating that the financial resources required to support an operational system are beyond the capabilities of a single agency, and a long-term commitment of resources from multiple agencies would be needed for successful implementation of the nationwide debris-flow warning system.

Technical Abstract: (Note: no abstract as this is a workshop summary) More than 40 participants, representing government agencies in research, training, and operations; nongovernmental organizations; emergency management; and academia, met for two days in person and online to discuss the monitoring technologies, forecasting tools, and community mitigation efforts in preparation for flash flooding, severe erosion, and debris flows that often follow wildfires. Post-wildfire hydrologic responses cross multiple scientific disciplines and affect several government agencies. Perhaps as a result, there is no single program designed to unite the scientific community and coordinate research efforts targeting the common goal of reducing the effects of post-wildfire flash flooding, severe erosion, and debris flows on local communities. Complex terrain challenges operational observing and forecasting systems. Wildfires are increasing in size, duration, and magnitude, while communities continue to develop in proximity to forests extending the wildland–urban interface. All these factors point to a future with potentially more devastating and frequent flash floods, severe erosion, and debris flows following wildfire. The report concludes by stating that the financial resources required to support an operational system are beyond the capabilities of a single agency, and a long-term commitment of resources from multiple agencies would be needed for successful implementation of the nationwide debris-flow warning system.