Scientists predict post-wildfire erosion risks

Bear Springs Fire
Bear Springs Fire

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Scientists in New Mexico have developed a new method for estimating the risks of post-wildfire landslides and other hazards even before the first flame is ignited.

The research by the U.S. Geological Survey and The Nature Conservancy focuses on a pair of mountain ranges that border the state’s largest city.

But the scientists say their method for predicting which watersheds have the most potential to be clogged with charred debris following a large-scale fire can be used across the West.

The method takes into account whether areas are overgrown and the steepness of the terrain. That combined with computer modeling of fire behavior helps predict where the hotspots will be when it comes to flash flooding and debris flow.

Lead author Anne Tillery says the research takes the ability of land managers to make predictions up a notch.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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