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Debris Flow Hazard Modeling with GIS and Remote Sensing in Southern California

Byerley, Erica (2021) Debris Flow Hazard Modeling with GIS and Remote Sensing in Southern California. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Debris flows are important processes for transporting sediment and large debris in mountain streams, but have proven deadly for residents of Southern California. Wildfire drastically increases the probability of debris flow occurrence because vegetation is burned off while the soil is baked, accelerating runoff and impeding infiltration. Large populations often reside downstream of mountain washes where these flows occur, putting them at risk. With larger, more destructive wildfires, and more extreme precipitation patterns, this risk is increasing. Case studies of debris flows following the Thomas, Holy, Woolsey, and Station fires offer lessons on how to better manage risk and respond to these dangers. Variables likely to contribute to debris flow occurrence within watersheds of the burn scars were analyzed with GIS and ordinary least squares regression modeling to determine whether debris flow hazard models relied upon by local governments were appropriate. Variables found to be statistically significant correlate strongly with those used by the USGS Western Preliminary Hazard Assessment Model, indicating its robustness in Southern California. However, reliability could be improved by including forecasted precipitation intensities for a storm by GIS analysts at the local level rather than utilizing model storm precipitation. Local government’s ability to effectively manage risk depends on debris flow hazard modeling capabilities, communication with the public, and coordination of emergency response by various government agencies. By implementing better policy in these areas, human life and property can be better protected when debris flows inevitably occur in Southern California again.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: debris flow; GIS; hazard; modeling; remote sensing; Southern California
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Geography, Planning and Recreation
Date Deposited: 23 Feb 2022 17:42
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2022 17:42
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5738

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