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Title: The Entiat Experimental Forest: a unique opportunity to examine hydrologic response to wildfire.

Author: Woodsmith, Richard D.; Vache, Kellie B.; McDonnell, Jeffrey J.; Seibert, Jan; Helvey, J. David

Date: 2007

Source: In: Furniss, M.J.; Clifton, C.; Ronnenberg, K.L., eds. Advancing the fundamental sciences: proceedings of the Forest Service national earth sciences conference. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agricultire, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 205-216

Publication Series: Proceedings (P)

Description: Water is generally regarded as the most important natural resource in the interior Columbia River basin (ICRB). Public agencies managing forested headwater source areas are under increasing pressure to document water quantity and quality, and the effects of background and anthropogenic disturbances that influence them. Fire is widely recognized as the primary disturbance process affecting ecological systems in the ICRB. For these reasons land management agencies seek a more complete understanding of processes that generate and maintain streamflow as well as effects of fire and postfire treatments on water quantity and quality. Although effects of wildfire are issues of major concern, they remain poorly understood at the catchment scale, largely because site-specific data from both before and after wildfire are rare. The Entiat Experimental Forest (EEF) in central Washington State provides this type of hydrologic record of fire effects, owing to a severe wildfire during the summer of 1970, following 10 years of stream gaging as part of a controlled land use experiment. Data collection continued after the fire through 1977. The entire data set provides an archive for assessment of hydrologic response and model formulation, calibration, and testing. Research at the EEF is being revived to model effects of fire on water quantity and quality, including effects on water source, flowpath, timing, and postfire recovery of hydrologic processes. We are taking a diagnostic approach to gaging to understand internal catchment behavior and develop a functional characterization of the EEF catchments. Change-detection modeling employing the Hydrologiska Byrins Vattenbalansavdelning [HBV] rainfall-runoff model is being applied by: (1) comparing observed runoff to runoff simulated from prefire parameters, (2) comparing simulations based on prefire parameters to simulations based on postfire parameters, and (3) directly contrasting prefire with postfire parameter values. Preliminary modeling results suggest that effects of the 1970 fire included greater snow accumulation, earlier initiation of snowmelt runoff at lower mean air temperatures, more rapid melt, increased soil moisture, and sharply increased runoff. Gaging at other catchments in the larger Entiat River subbasin creates a foundation for nested watershed monitoring and modeling to address spatially distributed hydrologic processes in this portion of the ICRB.

Keywords: Hillslope hydrology, conceptual catchment modeling, rainfall-runoff modeling, HBV runoff simulation model, fire effects

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Citation:


Woodsmith, Richard D.; Vache, Kellie B.; McDonnell, Jeffrey J. [et al.]. 2007. The Entiat Experimental Forest: a unique opportunity to examine hydrologic response to wildfire. In: Furniss, M.J.; Clifton, C.; Ronnenberg, K.L., eds. Advancing the fundamental sciences: proceedings of the Forest Service national earth sciences conference. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agricultire, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 205-216

 


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