Presentation Title

Effects of a British Columbia Wildfire on Soil Water Repellency

Presenter Information

Aaren Ritchie-Bonar

Location

House of Learning Library, 3rd floor

Start Date

18-3-2016 12:00 PM

End Date

18-3-2016 6:00 PM

Abstract

Soil water repellency (SWR) is a phenomenon observed around the world, yet has not been extensively studied within forests of British Columbia. The degree of SWR can be influenced through heating of soil by wildfires, but can also be found on sites absent from fire for decades. The purpose of this research was to determine whether a B.C. fire that burned in the summer of 2015 affected the presence of SWR from pre-fire measures, along with any effects of fire severity on the degree of SWR. To determine the effects of the wildfire on soil infiltration, SWR was measured using the Water Drop Penetration Time test on soil core samples from unburnt control (n=9), low (n=13), moderate (n=13), and high (n=10) severity burn sites within and adjacent to the fire area. Results showed that pre-fire soil characteristics had a low incidence of SWR, while samples taken within the fire area showed a high degree of SWR at various depths. The influence of varying fire severities were less conclusive on the degree of SWR. Results indicated that fire did have a significant impact on soil water repellency in the upper depths of soil occurring after the fire. Although long-term persistence of SWR has been shown to degrade over time, the effects have implications for landscape hydrology in the short-term. Rainfall events occurring directly after the fire could have an impact on surface runoff and erosion, with potential detrimental effects for human development adjacent to the fire perimeter.

Department

Natural Resource Science

Faculty Advisor

Wendy Gardner

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Mar 18th, 12:00 PM Mar 18th, 6:00 PM

Effects of a British Columbia Wildfire on Soil Water Repellency

House of Learning Library, 3rd floor

Soil water repellency (SWR) is a phenomenon observed around the world, yet has not been extensively studied within forests of British Columbia. The degree of SWR can be influenced through heating of soil by wildfires, but can also be found on sites absent from fire for decades. The purpose of this research was to determine whether a B.C. fire that burned in the summer of 2015 affected the presence of SWR from pre-fire measures, along with any effects of fire severity on the degree of SWR. To determine the effects of the wildfire on soil infiltration, SWR was measured using the Water Drop Penetration Time test on soil core samples from unburnt control (n=9), low (n=13), moderate (n=13), and high (n=10) severity burn sites within and adjacent to the fire area. Results showed that pre-fire soil characteristics had a low incidence of SWR, while samples taken within the fire area showed a high degree of SWR at various depths. The influence of varying fire severities were less conclusive on the degree of SWR. Results indicated that fire did have a significant impact on soil water repellency in the upper depths of soil occurring after the fire. Although long-term persistence of SWR has been shown to degrade over time, the effects have implications for landscape hydrology in the short-term. Rainfall events occurring directly after the fire could have an impact on surface runoff and erosion, with potential detrimental effects for human development adjacent to the fire perimeter.