Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

How to Manage Nature's Runaway Freight Trains

28.10.2013
Last month's torrential rains and flooding in Colorado made headlines, but there's another, far more common and growing weather-related threat western states are facing in the wake of longer and worsening fire seasons: flash floods and debris flows.

These runaway freight trains made of rock, mud, and water can barrel down mountain channels with little or no warning and take out roads, homes, and anything else in their path.

Denuded, flame-dried soils of recently burned landscapes are especially prone to more runoff and greater danger of these destructive events.

The good news is that as the frequency of fires and subsequent debris flows and flash floods has increased, progress has also been made in figuring out how these sudden events are created and what can be done to safeguard life and property.

Understanding how a burned landscape responds to rainfall after a wildfire is a big step forward.

"There has been a great deal of improvement in our understanding of debris flows, erosion and flash flooding coming-out of burned areas," says Jerry DeGraff, a 36-year veteran of the U.S. Forest Service in California. "This is even more important considering the number of large fires that are occurring and recurring in the U.S. and other parts of the world."

DeGraff is one of the organizers of a session on flash floods and debris flows at the meeting of the Geological Society of America in Denver, Colorado. The session, Geomorphology and Hydrology Impacts from Wildfires: Advances in Our Understanding over the Last 50 Years, features a range of talks covering flash floods and debris flows in a variety of landscapes -- from forests to scrubby chaparral that cover just about every kind of flammable landscape in the Western U.S.

"Structures -- meaning homes and other buildings -- have become a growing concern over the years as more people move into undeveloped areas whether nearer chaparral in Southern California or forests in the Intermountain West,:" says DeGraff. "The talks in the session reflect natural responses to wildfires and runoff that create hazards that may not even occur to the folks moving there."

One of the big science advances has been in the U.S. Geological Survey's debris flow models. These models have helped explain, for instance, where these potentially deadly flows are most likely to happen and how large they might be.

"We've learned that debris flows are likely from burned area for the first two years after a wildfire." says DeGraff. "But the chance of flash floods lasts a little longer." This kind of information helps determine what kinds of treatments might be done to mitigate damage.

"The more we can do to eliminate immediate hazards and longer-term impacts the better it is for emergency responders, residents, and government agencies." DeGraff says. "It's important to understand all the relative aspects: not only for immediate floods but also for the long term. It makes a difference to things like downstream municipal water supplies and road networks."

The session of brief talks makes up only half of the presentations. The talks focused on specific processes and what we have learned, and some also look at ecosystem effects. The other half of the presentations will take place at a poster session, where ongoing research will be presented.

WHEN & WHERE:
Session No. 13
Sunday, 27 October, 8 a.m. to noon
Colorado Convention Center Room 402
T81. Geomorphology and Hydrology Impacts from Wildfires: Advances in Our Understanding over the Last 50 Years

URL: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2013AM/webprogram/Session33206.html

Session No. 51
Sunday, 27 Oct. 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Colorado Convention Center Hall D
T81. Geomorphology and Hydrology Impacts from Wildfires: Advances in Our Understanding over the Last 50 Years (Posters)

URL: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2013AM/webprogram/Session34227.html

CONTACT:
Jerry DeGraff, jdegraff@fs.fed.us
ON-SITE NEWSROOM
Contact: Kea Giles
Colorado Convention Center, Room 608
+1-303-228-8431
The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 25,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 100 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.

Kea Giles | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.geosociety.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems
23.01.2018 | University of Exeter

nachricht How climate change weakens coral 'immune systems'
23.01.2018 | Ohio State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>