LINKING BURN SEVERITY TO SOIL INFILTRATION AND RUNOFF IN AN MONTANE WATERSHED: BOULDER, COLORADO
Soil is a major controlling variable of the hydrology of burned and unburned watersheds. Establishing a linkage between soil infiltration and burn severity may, therefore, offer insight into the likelihood of elevated levels of runoff and the likelihood of floods. Although previous studies have sought to establish a quantitative relation between runoff and burn severity, this relation has not been evaluated with respect to antecedent soil moisture in a montane watershed, such as the Loretta-Linda Basin. This study focused on linking burn severity to the runoff response and soil infiltration within the Fourmile Canyon burned area by comparing data collected from adjacent sub drainages of the Loretta-Linda Basin. These sub drainages though immediately adjacent to one another experienced different burn severities and was used to compare the short-term hydrologic response between areas of low and high burn severity. Rainfall, soil moisture, runoff, and infiltration data collected over a three month period were used to establish a quantitative relationship between burn severity, runoff and soil moisture. Initial investigation suggests that there is a correlation between high burn severities and low antecedent soil moisture levels and subsequent increased runoff.