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Flooding, erosion, sedimentation after High Park Fire

April 30, 2014

Learn about the latest observations from two watersheds that burned in 2012 during Colorado's third largest wildfire in the last of this semester's CWI Interdisciplinary Water Seminar series.

Peter Nelson, assistant professor in CSU's Civil Engineering department, will give a presentation on "Flooding, Erosion, and Sedimentation Following the 2012 High Park Fire," May 5 at 4 p.m. in Lory Student Center 224. The seminar, the last in this semester's Interdisciplinary Water Seminar series, is free and open to the public. 

Wildfires can dramatically change the hydrologic response of a watershed, leading to greatly increased peak flows and erosion rates for a given storm. Watershed-scale issues of flooding, water quality, and sedimentation are of primary concern to resource managers and the public, and our understanding of and ability to predict fire effects at this scale are limited.

To gain insight on the processes controlling post-fire watershed-scale erosion and sediment delivery, Nelson and his team have been monitoring two study watersheds that burned in the June 2012 High Park Fire, the third largest fire in Colorado’s history. They are using a network of rain gauges, remotely sensed topography, field observations of hillslope-scale sediment production, and repeat surveys of channels to better understand and quantify post-fire erosion rates at the watershed scale, sediment storage on hillslopes and sediment delivery to channels, changes in peak flows and channel morphology, and expansion and contraction of the channel network.

Nelson will share the preliminary results of these observations during this exciting opportunity to examine the aftereffects of one Colorado's most recent natural disasters.

For more information, go to the Colorado Water Institute website. 

Contact: Cooper Heinrichs
Phone: (303) 491 - 6308