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An assessment of soil water repellency after wildfire in southern British Columbia : comparison of methodologies and predictive indicators Scott, Adrienne Mary


Current studies of soil water repellency show that there are multiple contributing factors to its presence and persistence. Water repellency in soils of the Southern Interior of British Columbia has economic implications, as it can contribute to large scale landslides, and management implications as it affects hydrology and wildfire rehabilitation. The purposes of these studies were twofold. The first assessed three appropriate methods for testing soil water repellency of burned and unburned soils from eight areas in southern British Columbia. These tests were performed in laboratory conditions as well as in situ. The Concentration of Ethanol Drop (CED), Mini-Disk Infiltrometer (MDI) and Spatial Repellency Index (SRI) tests were all used, and the results compared to assess whether all were valid. The studies indicated that the MDI, CED and SRI tests are reliable to detect at least the presence or absence of water repellency in both field and laboratory conditions. The second study assessed whether wildfire would increase the presence and degree of water repellency in the soils one or two years after fire, and whether total organic content, texture and ambient moisture content could be used to predict this soil trait. Wildfire did not increase the presence or degree of water repellency, and soil texture, organic matter content and moisture content were not found to be reliable indicators of soil water repellency in these soils. This study showed that water repellency exists in burned and unburned forest soils in BC, and that various methods can be used to test for it. Further detailed studies are needed on the predictors on forest soils in British Columbia.

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