AbstractWarmer and drier climate has contributed to increased occurrence of large, high severity wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, drawing concerns for water quality and ecosystem recovery. While nutrient fluxes generally increase post-fire, the composition of organic matter (OM) transported to streams immediately following a fire is poorly constrained, yet can play an integral role in downstream water quality and biogeochemistry. Here, we quantified the spatiotemporal patterns of dissolved OM (DOM) chemistry for five streams burned by wildfires in Oregon, USA in 2020. We sampled over a 24-hour storm event one month after the fire, revealing variable temporal behavior in DOM dynamics. DOM chemistry was directly related with burn severity spatially. Specifically, nitrogen and aromatic character of DOM increased in streams burned at greater severity. Our results suggest a spatial overprinting of DOM dynamics immediately following fire activity and highlight a key gap in our knowledge of post-fire DOM transport to streams.
Published: September 22, 2022