Building the future by doing more together

ASHMOB - Wildfire ASH MOBilization by wind and water erosion: a combined measurementmodeling approach for prediction of post-fire ash mobilization risk
Coordinator - Jan Jacob Keizer
Programme - Programa Operacional Regional do Centro (02/SAICT/2017)
Execution dates - 2018-06-21 - 2021-06-20 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020 co-funded by the FEDER - Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional
Funding for CESAM - 200325.73 €
Total Funding - 238121.88 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Coimbra

Background Wildfire regimes in Mediterranean regions have intensified over the last decades, strongly reflecting human activities. In Portugal, wildfires have affected 100.000 ha per year and >300.000 ha in extreme years. A key societal concern regarding wildfires is their impacts on forest ecosystem services, with erosion control being an important focus of post-fire land management in eg USA but also Portugal, starting with emergency stabilization reports by ICNF. This focus stems from the recognition that: (i) wildfires typically provoke strong erosion responses; (ii) enhanced soil (fertility) losses not only affect other forest ecosystem services (eg wood production) but also aquatic ecosystem services downstream when impacted by sediment influxes; (iii) post-fire soil erosion can be effectively reduced by eg mulching. In recent years, considerable progress was made with model-based prediction of soil erosion risk in recently burnt areas. However, none of the existing models explicitly simulates mobilization of the ash layer deposited by wildfire, in spite wildfire ash is not only highly erodible but also contains a significant part of a forest?s nutrient capital and has high contaminant loads (with marked ecotoxicological effects). This omission in the existing models must be understood against the generalized lack of information on ash deposition by wildfires and, even more so, its subsequent mobilization by wind and water erosion. Overall aim The overall aim is to further the knowledge of wildfire ash deposition and its mobilization by wind and water erosion, and to use these new insights to modify 5 contrasting wind and water erosion models to explicitly simulate ash detachment and transport, including following erosion mitigation measures selected by stakeholders. The 2 principal and fire-prone forest types of Central Portugal - maritime pine and eucalypt - will be the study cases. Overall approach The overall approach consists of a stepwise combined measurement-modelling approach, joining the expertise of 3 research teams from different fields. The successive measurement steps are: (1) field data and sample collection on wildfire ash deposition (A1); (2) wind and water (splash, sheet and (inter-)rill) erosion experiments under controlled laboratory conditions, using the A1 ash samples (A2-A3); (3) field monitoring of ash erosion by wind and water (A5). TheA2-A3 laboratory data will provide a sound evidence-base for modifying the models' process descriptions and empirical relationships, while the A5 field data will allow validating the modified models and, if needed, fine-tuning them. 5 consultants will help revise the consortium?s field and laboratory protocols, and brainstorm on possible model modifications. Expected outcomes The principal outcomes will be improved models for predicting soil and ash erosion risk in recently burnt forests and greater stakeholder awareness of post-fire ash mobilization and its mitigation




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