Field Notes

Wildfire Awareness Month: Assessing Wildfire and Climate Change Impacts to Watersheds

Home  /  Field notes   /   Wildfire Awareness Month: Assessing Wildfire and Climate Change Impacts to Watersheds

With May being National Wildfire Awareness Month, I’m excited to share insights from my journey focused on addressing wildfires and climate change. I joined WRA as a geomorphologist/hydrologist in February 2024 and am thrilled to utilize my extensive academic and practical experience to support our clients in wildfire management and climate adaptation.

My role at WRA incorporates my PhD research on the effects of climate change and wildfires on watershed hydrology in the western United States. This work guides our project strategies and enhances our understanding of the interplay between wildfires, climate change, and water resources, driving our efforts to devise effective solutions for community protection and natural resource conservation.

This subject-matter expertise contributes to detailed assessments of post-fire landscapes and understanding of geomorphic and hydrologic consequences of wildfires while integrating wildfire risk mapping under climate change scenarios to improve our strategies. Assessments like these are helpful to communities preparing for wildfire because they are:

  • Crucial for understanding the short and long-term effects of wildfires on watersheds and ecosystems;
  • Helpful to pinpoint high-risk areas and evaluate the potential impacts on hydrologic processes like peak flow and debris flow; and
  • Critical in assessing the uncertain impact of extreme weather events in post-fire landscapes.

Combined, this provides our project partners with valuable insights for forward-thinking planning and adaptation.

By grasping the post-fire impacts and anticipating climatic shifts, communities can make well-informed decisions, allocate resources efficiently, and develop customized resilience plans. This strategy promotes community involvement, fosters partnerships, and encourages proactive measures among residents, leading to improved preparedness, reduced vulnerability, and enhanced sustainability amid increasing wildfire risks.

We are excited to partner with organizations that desire to turn challenges into opportunities and build a safer and more resilient future for your community. If you are interested in learning more, please reach out to me.

Contact us for resilience support!

Junjie Chen, Geomorphologist

To learn more about our capabilities, download our informational materials:

Community Resilience
Riverscapes & Shorelines

Read more in our Wildfire Awareness Month series including Stepping up to the Challenge and stay tuned for more informational content!