Fire effects on soil and hydrology

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Fire can significantly increase a landscape’s vulnerability to flooding and erosion events. By removing vegetation, changing soil properties and inducing soil water repellency, fire can increase the risk and erosivity of overland flow. Mitigation of land degradation and flooding events after fire can help safeguard natural resources and prevent further economical and ecological havoc, but can benefit from an improved understanding of its drivers.
The aim of this thesis is to improve the understanding of the effects of fire on soil and hydrology. Laboratory and field studies focus on the relation between fire, soil, vegetation and hydrology as well as the effects of scale, in order to find the drivers of post-fire flooding and erosion events. The effect of soil heating on soil physical properties is evaluated, and the above- and belowground drivers of soil heating are investigated. Furthermore, the results of a unique field experiment are presented in which the Portuguese Valtorto catchment was burned by experimental fire. The effects of fire on soil and surface properties is assessed, as well as the changes in the temporal evolution of soil water repellency, Finally, the hydrological implications are discussed. The thesis concludes with recommendations for mitigation of fire-induced land degradation; focusing on guidelines for prescribed burns, that are used to prevent fire, and on reducing runoff and erosion in burned lands where fire prevention was unsuccessful.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Ritsema, Coen, Promotor
  • Ferreira, A.J.D., Promotor, External person
Award date10 Jun 2011
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789085859154
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2011


  • fire effects
  • fires
  • soil
  • hydrology
  • soil heating
  • ash
  • soil physical properties
  • soil water retention
  • soil temperature
  • land degradation
  • erosion


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