The use of the Soil Conservation Service-curve number (SCS-CN) model for runoff predictions after rainstorms in fire-affected forests in the Mediterranean climate is quite scarce and limited to the watershed scale. To validate the applicability of this model in this environment, this study has evaluated the runoff prediction capacity of the SCS-CN model after storms at the plot scale in two pine forests of Central-Eastern Spain, affected by wildfire (with or without straw mulching) or prescribed fire and in unburned soils. The model performance has been compared to the predictions of linear regression equations between rainfall depth and runoff volume. The runoff volume was simulated with reliability by the linear regression only for the unburned soil (coefficient of Nash and Sutcliffe E = 0.73–0.89). Conversely, the SCS-CN model was more accurate for burned soils (E = 0.81–0.97), also when mulching was applied (E = 0.96). The performance of this model was very satisfactory in predicting the maximum runoff. Very low values of CNs and initial abstraction were required to predict the particular hydrology of the experimental areas. Moreover, the post-fire hydrological “window-of-disturbance” could be reproduced only by increasing the CN for the storms immediately after the wildfire. This study indicates that, in Mediterranean forests subject to the fire risk, the simple linear equations are feasible to predict runoff after low-intensity storms, while the SCS-CN model is advisable when runoff predictions are needed to control the flooding risk.

Modeling the Soil Response to Rainstorms after Wildfire and Prescribed Fire in Mediterranean Forests

Bombino, Giuseppe;Carrà, Bruno Gianmarco;D’Agostino, Daniela;Labate, Antonino;Zema, Demetrio Antonio
2020-01-01

Abstract

The use of the Soil Conservation Service-curve number (SCS-CN) model for runoff predictions after rainstorms in fire-affected forests in the Mediterranean climate is quite scarce and limited to the watershed scale. To validate the applicability of this model in this environment, this study has evaluated the runoff prediction capacity of the SCS-CN model after storms at the plot scale in two pine forests of Central-Eastern Spain, affected by wildfire (with or without straw mulching) or prescribed fire and in unburned soils. The model performance has been compared to the predictions of linear regression equations between rainfall depth and runoff volume. The runoff volume was simulated with reliability by the linear regression only for the unburned soil (coefficient of Nash and Sutcliffe E = 0.73–0.89). Conversely, the SCS-CN model was more accurate for burned soils (E = 0.81–0.97), also when mulching was applied (E = 0.96). The performance of this model was very satisfactory in predicting the maximum runoff. Very low values of CNs and initial abstraction were required to predict the particular hydrology of the experimental areas. Moreover, the post-fire hydrological “window-of-disturbance” could be reproduced only by increasing the CN for the storms immediately after the wildfire. This study indicates that, in Mediterranean forests subject to the fire risk, the simple linear equations are feasible to predict runoff after low-intensity storms, while the SCS-CN model is advisable when runoff predictions are needed to control the flooding risk.
2020
hydrological models; rainfall; surface runoff; linear regression models; curve number; SCS.CN model; mulching; wildfire; prescribed fire
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12318/77561
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