A Joint Project: Understanding the short- and long-term impacts of wildfires on mass wasting and debris flows in different hillslope environments under a changing climate (STRESSES)

Wildfires can result in long-term ecological and geo-environmental resource losses due to removing natural forest cover. In addition, the loss of vegetation cover following such perturbing occurrences can have a cascading effect that accelerates rapid erosion and increases the frequency of mass movements. Despite long-standing research on soil-mantled cover hillslopes in response to wildfires, we have very limited knowledge of the effects of forest fires on rock slopes. In this respect, the proposed project addresses these missing links and aims to investigate the direct signatures of wildfires on rock slopes through on-site measurements, observations, modeling, and laboratory analyses to initiate international cooperation between Czech and Turkish research teams. The joint project focuses on the changes in rock mass properties due to wildfires, specifically the weathering of bedrock surfaces by shattering, spalling, and exfoliation due to the direct impact of high temperatures produced by fires, and additionally the variations in solar radiation due to the disappearance of arboreal species after wildfires as a short- and long-term contributors and their impacts on increasing probability and intensity of sediment flux and debris flows. A multi-layered methodology consisting of in-situ monitoring and observations, laboratory tests, GIS modeling, and climate scenarios will be used in both study areas (in Czechia (Bohemian Switzerland National Park) and Turkey (Manavgat area)) to understand these changes better. Through this joint study in disparate geographies with different dynamics, both teams will gain valuable insight into the complex nature of post-wildfire dynamics and their short- and long-term effects on bedrock hillslopes. This will allow us to assess the prospective changes in the stability of rock slopes under ongoing climate change and increased frequency of wildfires and to predict future risks.