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Seasonal fluctuations in water repellency and infiltration in a sandy loam soil after a forest fire in Galicia (NW Spain)

Author(s): M. Rodríguez-Alleres | M.E. Varela | E. Benito

Journal: Flamma
ISSN 2171-665X

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 125;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Hydraulic conductivity | Sorptivity | Infiltration | Seasonal pattern | Water repellency

The aim of this work was to analyze, after a wildfire of moderate severity, the temporal fluctuations in water repellency and infiltration in a sandy loam soil under a mixed plantation of pine and eucalyptus and the comparison with an adjacent area not affected by the fire. In the burnt area and in a neighboring area not affected by the fire were collected during one year (1, 4, 6, 8 and 12 months after the fire) 10 soil samples along a transect of 18 m at four depths: 0-2, 2-5, 5-10 and 10-20 cm. Soil water repellency was determined using the water drop penetration time test (WDPT test) and the infiltration was measured with a mini-disc infiltrometer (pressure head h0 = -2 cm).The results show a temporal pattern of soil water repellency in the burnt and unburnt areas. Significant correlations between water repellency and soil moisture were observed, with higher correlation coefficients in the unburned area and in the surface soil layer.Soil water infiltration was significantly lower than would be expected by the coarse texture of the soil in both burnt and unburnt areas. Temporal fluctuations in unburnt soil infiltration seem to be clearly related to the transient nature of the soil water repellency, with no infiltration in samples extremely repellent. In the burned area, the soil infiltration showed much more variability and temporal fluctuations appear to be less dependent on the persistence of water repellency and more dependent on environmental conditions.The unburnt area show significant and negative correlations of soil water repellency with hydraulic conductivity and sorptivity and positive of these two parameters with soil moisture. These relationships were not observed in the burnt area. The temporal fluctuations of soil water repellency have an evident impact on soil infiltration and seem to be more influent than the effects of fire.

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