Researchers gain grant to study fire aftermath regrowth

first_imgAs wildfires dominate headlines in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the American West, a Washington State University Vancouver researcher is seeking answers to unknown questions about a fire’s aftermath.Kevan Moffett, an assistant professor of environmental hydrology at the Salmon Creek campus, and Andr?s Holz, an assistant professor of geography at Portland State University, recently received about $500,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation grant to research how the soil and landscape changes after multiple wildfires in one area.It’s a relatively untapped area of research, Moffett said. There’s no data on the hydrology — the movement and quality of water — of soil that’s been burned over and over again in the kinds of forests that cover Washington state, nor is there any information on how repeated burns could affect landslides, downstream flooding, vegetation regrowth or the risk of even more fire.“It’s like a whole new world is opening to us,” Moffett said.And it’s a world that, as climate change makes Pacific Northwest summers drier and hotter, could become more familiar.“It is likely that we’re going to have more severe and more frequent, presumably, fire in the future in this area that has tons of fuel,” Holz said.Moffett, Holz and their team will look at six 50-by-50 meter swaths of land in the Cougar Creek fire zone and study hydrology of the landscape and what vegetation returns to the area. It’s a unique spot, Moffett said, as wildfires burned through the Cougar Creek area on the south slope of Mt. Adams in 2004, 2008 and 2015.last_img read more