Hydrologic effects of large southwestern USA wildfires significantly increase regional water supply: fact or fiction?

In recent years climate change and historic fire suppression have increased the frequency of large wildfires in the southwestern USA, motivating study of the hydrological consequences of these wildfires at point and watershed scales, typically over short periods of time. These studies have revealed that reduced soil infiltration capacity and reduced transpiration due to tree canopy combustion increase streamflow at the watershed scale. However, the degree to which these local increases in runoff propagate to larger scales—relevant to urban and agricultural water supply—remains largely unknown, particularly in semi-arid mountainous watersheds co-dominated by winter snowmelt and the North American monsoon.

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