Hydrologic recovery after wildfire: A framework of approaches, metrics, criteria, trajectories, and timescales

Journal of Hydrology and Hydromechanics
By: , and 



Deviations in hydrologic processes due to wildfire can alter streamflows across the hydrograph, spanning peak flows to low flows. Fire-enhanced changes in hydrologic processes, including infiltration, interception, and evapotranspiration, and the resulting streamflow responses can affect water supplies, through effects on the quantity, quality, and timing of water availability. Post-fire shifts in hydrologic processes can also alter the timing and magnitude of floods and debris flows. The duration of hydrologic deviations from a pre-fire condition or function, sometimes termed hydrologic recovery, is a critical concern for land, water, and emergency managers. We reviewed and summarized terminology and approaches for defining and assessing hydrologic recovery after wildfire, focusing on statistical and functional definitions. We critically examined advantages and drawbacks of current recovery assessment methods, outline challenges to determining recovery, and call attention to selected opportunities for advancement of post-fire hydrologic recovery assessment. Selected challenges included hydroclimatic variability, post-fire land management, and spatial and temporal variability. The most promising opportunities for advancing assessment of hydrologic recovery include: (1) combining statistical and functional recovery approaches, (2) using a greater diversity of post-fire observations complemented with hydrologic modeling, and (3) defining optimal assemblages of recovery metrics and criteria for common hydrologic concerns and regions.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrologic recovery after wildfire: A framework of approaches, metrics, criteria, trajectories, and timescales
Series title Journal of Hydrology and Hydromechanics
DOI 10.2478/johh-2022-0033
Volume 70
Issue 4
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher Institute of Hydrology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences
Contributing office(s) WMA - Earth System Processes Division
Description 13 p.
First page 388
Last page 400
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