Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

After The Forest Fire: Evergreen Needles Prevent Soil Erosion

Date:
November 19, 2003
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
Once a raging forest fire is quelled, the next worry is erosion of the landscape. With vegetation destroyed, rain easily washes away the soil, causing large flows of debris and landslides. Erosion endangers sources of drinking water, streams, and roads.

WASHINGTON - Once a raging forest fire is quelled, the next worry is erosion of the landscape. With vegetation destroyed, rain easily washes away the soil, causing large flows of debris and landslides. Erosion endangers sources of drinking water, streams, and roads.

In an unprecedented study, Chris Pannkuk and Peter Robichaud show that scorched evergreen needles can play a key role in preventing erosion after a forest fire. They found that ponderosa pine needles were effective in reducing erosion caused by water running over the soil, and Douglas fir needles were effective in reducing erosion caused by rain hitting and splashing into soil. Their report will appear in Water Resources Research, published by the American Geophysical Union.

These findings can help post-fire rehabilitation teams decide where to apply treatments to reduce erosion. "If you see brown needles in the trees," Robichaud said, "then let's take advantage of Mother Nature and not add any treatments to that area of the forest."

Wildfires usually burn in mosaics, with patches of low, moderate, and high severity. In areas of low or moderate severity, needles from partially burned conifer trees fall to the ground within a few months after the fire. Robichaud noticed that needle cover seemed to reduce erosion on forest soils after a fire. Since no one had formally studied this effect, he and Pannkuk used an artificial rain laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forestry Science Laboratory in Moscow, Idaho, to see how much burnt needles could reduce erosion.

They filled four-meter by one-meter [13-foot by 3-foot] boxes, set at a 22-degree slope, with soil taken from burnt forests. After covering the soil with various amounts of scorched ponderosa pine and Douglas fir needles, they applied artificial rain for 25 minutes at an intensity that would simulate 34 millimeters [1.3 inches] of rain per hour. During each test, they also introduced a stream of water at the top of the box to simulate overland water flow.

The researchers collected and analyzed run-off soil and water from the boxes. They found that a 50 percent ground cover of Douglas fir needles reduced water flow erosion by 20 percent and rain-induced erosion by 80 percent. A 50 percent ground cover of ponderosa pine needles reduced water flow erosion by 40 percent and rain-induced erosion by 60 percent.

Robichaud, who has been studying and modeling erosion after prescribed and wildfire for 13 years, directs several treatment effectiveness projects in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and Washington. Pannkuk, who worked with Robichaud as a post-doctorate on this project, is currently a natural resources consultant.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "After The Forest Fire: Evergreen Needles Prevent Soil Erosion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031119075950.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2003, November 19). After The Forest Fire: Evergreen Needles Prevent Soil Erosion. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031119075950.htm
American Geophysical Union. "After The Forest Fire: Evergreen Needles Prevent Soil Erosion." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031119075950.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins