The use of composite fingerprints to quantify sediment sources in a wildfire impacted landscape, Alberta, Canada

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Stone, M., Collins, A. L., Silins, U., Emelko, M. B. and Zhang, Y. 2014. The use of composite fingerprints to quantify sediment sources in a wildfire impacted landscape, Alberta, Canada. Science of the Total Environment. 473-474 (1 March), pp. 642-650.

AuthorsStone, M., Collins, A. L., Silins, U., Emelko, M. B. and Zhang, Y.
Abstract

There is increasing global concern regarding the impacts of large scale land disturbance by wildfire on a wide range of water and related ecological services. This study explores the impact of the 2003 Lost Creek wildfire in the Crowsnest River basin, Alberta, Canada on regional scale sediment sources using a tracing approach. A composite geochemical fingerprinting procedure was used to apportion the sediment efflux among three key spatial sediment sources: 1) unburned (reference) 2) burned and 3) burned sub-basins that were subsequently salvage logged. Spatial sediment sources were characterized by collecting time-integrated suspended sediment samples using passive devices during the entire ice free periods in 2009 and 2010. The tracing procedure combines the Kruskal-Wallis H-test, principal component analysis and genetic-algorithm driven discriminant function analysis for source discrimination. Source apportionment was based on a numerical mass balance model deployed within a Monte Carlo framework incorporating both local optimization and global (genetic algorithm) optimization. The mean relative frequency-weighted average median inputs from the three spatial source units were estimated to be 17% (inter-quartile uncertainty range 0-32%) from the reference areas, 45% (inter-quartile uncertainty range 25-65%) from the burned areas and 38% (inter-quartile uncertainty range 14-59%) from the burned-salvage logged areas. High sediment inputs from burned and the burned-salvage logged areas, representing spatial source units 2 and 3, reflect the lasting effects of forest canopy and forest floor organic matter disturbance during the 2003 wildfire including increased runoff and sediment availability related to high terrestrial erosion, streamside mass wasting and river bank collapse. The results demonstrate the impact of wildfire and incremental pressures associated with salvage logging on catchment spatial sediment sources in higher elevation Montane regions where forest growth and vegetation recovery are relatively slow.

Keywordswildlife; sediment source fingerprinting; genetic algorithm; uncertainty analysis
Year of Publication2014
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Journal citation473-474 (1 March), pp. 642-650
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.12.052
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Funder project or codeDelivering Sustainable Systems (SS) [ISPG]
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online07 Jan 2014
Publication process dates
Accepted10 Dec 2013
Copyright licensePublisher copyright
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
ISSN0048-9697

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