Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (1.8 MB)

Title: Effects of climate change and wildfire on soil loss in the Southern Rockies Ecoregion

Author: Litschert, S. E.; Theobald, D. M.; Brown, T. C.;

Date: 2014

Source: CATENA. 118: 206-219.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Forests in the Southern Rockies Ecoregion surround the headwaters of several major rivers in the western and central US. Future climatic changes will increase the incidence of wildfire in those forests, and will likely lead to changes in downstream water quality, including sediment loads.We estimated soil loss under the historic climate and two IPCC climate change emissions scenarios (A2 and B1); each scenario was modeled using statistically downscaled climate data from global circulation models (GCMs; ECHAM5 and HadCM3) for each of thirteen land cover types. We used the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) and developed a way to calculate rainfall erosivity, a key factor in RUSLE, to account for climate change. We also incorporated the effects of climate change on wildfire to create stochastic spatial distributions of wildfires and to inform changes in land cover. Based on 100 simulations of future wildfire applied to RUSLE for each GCM-scenario combination, we found that soil loss will likely increase above historic levels but that considerable uncertainty remains about theamount of increase. Across the GCM-scenario combinations, mean soil loss increased above historic levels by from 3% (HadCM3-A2) to 65% (ECHAM5-B1) for climate change only and the effects of wildfire increased soil loss an additional 3 to 5%.

Keywords: climate change, soil loss, wildfire, erosion, RUSLE, Southern Rockies Ecoregion

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Litschert, S. E.; Theobald, D. M.; Brown, T. C. 2014. Effects of climate change and wildfire on soil loss in the Southern Rockies Ecoregion. CATENA. 118: 206-219.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.