State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2006AK50B
Title: Watershed Response to Forest Fires in Cold Regions: Channel Development and Suspended Load Variation in Streams in Interior Alaska
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2006
End Date: 2/28/2008
Congressional District: AK
Focus Categories: Hydrology, Surface Water
Keywords: suspended load, soil erosion, channel formation, mapping, discontinuous permafrost
Principal Investigator: Toniolo, Horacio
Federal Funds: $ 14,368
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 6,825
Abstract: The past summers in Alaska were characterized by enormous and devastating boreal forest fires. For instance, more than 2 million hectares were affected by fires in the summer of 2004, and 1.55 million hectares during the summer of 2005. The rapid effects of fires on suspended load in streams, and channel development in zones affected by fires or the fire-suppession activities are not well understood or quantified in areas underlain by discontinuous permafrost. The objectives of the proposed research are (1) to provide baseline data on rapid changes in the suspended load of streams in severely and partially burned areas located in watersheds underlain by discontinuous permafrost in Interior Alaska, and (2) to provide quantitative data on changes (soil erosion) in areas affected by firefighters. A pristine watershed unaffected by fires will be used as a control to compare suspended load in this project. Extensive field data collection and surveys and laboratory analysis will be conducted to accomplish these objectives.

Summary of 2006 Activities: Instruments including pressure transducers, dataloggers, and autosamplers were installed in the streams after spring breakup. Water samples were collected every day. Suspended load concentrations were determined at UAF's laboratories. Topographical surveys were conducted in an area where a small channel is developing. These tasks were carried out by graduate student Paul Duvoy. Results from his work were presented at 2006 AGU Fall Meeting.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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