Saturday, 15 July 2006

Forest Management Effects on Extreme Flooding Events: Evaluating Hydrologic Modeling Approaches.

Mary B. Adams1, Mark H. Eisenbees2, W. Michael Aust2, and James A. Burger2. (1) USDA Forest Service, Timber and Watershed Laboratory, PO Box 404, Parsons, WV 26287, (2) Virgnia Tech., Department of Forestry, 228 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Concern over the effects of forestry practices, particularly harvesting, on large flooding events is a recurrent issue in forest and watershed management. Due to the complexity of the system, and the cost of installing large-scale hydrologic studies, data to address such questions are usually limited, both temporally and spatially. Models are therefore frequently employed to address additional questions by extending interpretations using existing combined data sets. Our goal was to (1) review the literature regarding forest land use and flooding, and (2) assess the capability of currently available hydrologic models and modeling approaches for evaluating the effects of forest management on flooding. A large number of hydrologic models currently exist that have been developed for a variety of applications. We found that there are no hydrologic models currently available that are totally desirable for addressing issues related to extreme peak flows. This is somewhat tied to the rarity of extreme events, and to their apparently requiring a different hydrologic paradigm than lower-flow and smaller flood conditions. Past studies indicate an abrupt transition across a threshold between lesser and extreme events, which may be tied to flow routing issues.

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