Accompanying Data to Hampton, Lin, and Basu (2021) "Wildfire effects on water quality at continental and global scales: A meta-analysis"

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Created: Aug 18, 2021 at 9:49 p.m.
Last updated: Aug 23, 2021 at 6:12 p.m.
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Forested watersheds supply over two thirds of the world’s drinking water. The last decade has seen an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires that is threatening these source watersheds, and necessitating more expensive water treatment to address degrading water quality. Given increasing wildfire frequency in a changing climate, it is important to understand the magnitude of water quality impacts following fire. Here, we use a meta-analysis approach to explore post-fire changes in the concentrations of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) species, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and total suspended sediments (TSS) in 121 catchments around the world. We find concurrent increases in C, N and P species, highlighting a tight coupling between biogeochemical cycles in post-fire landscapes. Most interestingly, we find that fire alters N and P speciation, with median increases of 40-60% in the proportion of soluble inorganic N and P relative to total N and P. We also found that fire decreases C:N and C:P ratios, with median decreases ranging from 60-70%. Finally we observe a “hockey stick”-like response in concentration extremes, where increases in the highest concentration ranges are much greater than increases at lower concentrations. Our study documents strong heterogeneity in responses of water quality to wildfire that have been unreported so far in the literature.

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Hampton, T. B. (2021). Accompanying Data to Hampton, Lin, and Basu (2021) "Wildfire effects on water quality at continental and global scales: A meta-analysis", HydroShare,

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