Research into post-wildfire effects began in the USA more than 70 years ago and only later extended into other parts of the world, notably Australia and the Mediterranean, in subsequent decades.  The large empirical knowledge base that now exists in these three regions and others suggests that it should now be possible to compile this knowledge into an organizational framework that with analysis and discussion will provide new insights into some of the priority research issues facing the wildfire community.

Post-wildfire science is generally not recognized as a discipline in its own right, so the intention of this Chapman Conference is to bring together experts from the field of post-wildfire research, other fields of related research, and from the hydrologic modeling field to address current priority issues facing the post-wildfire community.  The overall goal of the conference is (1) to address the priority research issues, and (2) to synthesize existing empirical data in a quantitative manner that will improve or provide additional model components designed to further post-wildfire research and assist the fire-effects community and land managers in the decision-making process. An additional goal is to encourage young career scientists to contribute papers and to participate in these in-depth discussions. This Chapman Conference encourages all interested scientists to contribute abstracts for oral and poster talks that are clearly related to the five sessions outlined below.

The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum: (1) where invited speakers can present different perspectives and new insights on each priority research issue, (2) for in-depth discussions (among all participants representing a variety of disciplines related to wildfire) oriented toward resolving issues, (3) for interactive field trips that highlight some of the issues, (4) to develop plans and proposals for future collaborative research efforts in different regions of the world using identical standard methods established for post-wildfire research, and (5) to determine the interest in establishing long-term measurement programs and organize them at different sites around the world so that post-wildfire response and recovery rates can be directly compared.

Planned products from this conference are: (1) pre-conference review paper, (2) AGU monograph of invited papers and other submitted papers, (3) journal papers focused on proposed resolutions for priority research issues for each topic session, (4) possible journal paper on the relation between burn severity and soil hydraulic properties based on data collected during the conference, and (5) proposals for funding of a joint-international program to monitor post wildfire responses using standard methods.

The primary research issues are grouped into the following five topic sessions together with their objectives:

  1. Organizational framework: Post-wildfire response domains—will provide descriptions of the runoff and erosion processes in addition to the essential characteristics and associated metrics of the fire, precipitation, and hydro-geomorphic regimes associated with wildfires in different regions throughout the world. The objective is to group the wide range of post-wildfire responses into domains with broadly similar characteristics. By doing this, reasons for differences in response may then be more apparent and provide insights into how to resolve a number of the priority research issues facing the fire community.
  2. Precipitation: Meso-scale rainfall characterization—will explore with meteorologists and hydrologists the topographic controls and characteristics of meso-scale rainfall in different post-wildfire response domains with the objective of determining the appropriate rainfall parameterization and the critical relations between these temporal and spatial rainfall parameters and post-wildfire infiltration and runoff responses.
  3. Infiltration: Effects of soil properties on infiltration—will discuss the relations between burn severity metrics and soil hydraulic properties.  The objective is to determine how to best measure fire-affected soil hydraulic properties and represent their inherent spatial variability so that traditional models of infiltration can be modified for use in different post-wildfire domains.
  4. Runoff: Linking precipitation and runoff—will focus on the links between precipitation and runoff.  The objective is to understand the importance of rainfall thresholds, how to quantify them, and their dependence on spatial scale, in addition to determining how spatial connectivity of runoff, depression storage, and changes in hydraulic roughness affect the determination of the time shifting contributing area of post-wildfire runoff during a rainstorm.
  5. Sediment: Erosion and transport—will address the research issues related to the multiple sediment erosion and transport processes spanning the spectrum from rain-splash erosion to debris flow initiation and erosion, the associated thresholds, spatial and temporal response scales, parameterization and the need to standardize methods.