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Mendenhall Research Fellowship - Research Opportunity # S43. Post-wildfire watershed recovery and the persistence of debris-flow hazard
Debris flows and flash floods are among the most destructive hydrological consequences of wildfire in steep watersheds. The high likelihood of catastrophic wildfires in the western United States and the encroachment of human activities into steep fire-prone areas have created the need to better understand, predict, and mitigate these hazards. At the U.S. Geological Survey, reduction of public exposure to these hazards has been accomplished through efforts aimed at improving hazard assessment products and an early warning system run in collaboration with the National Weather Service.
Post-fire debris flows have been documented during the very first rainstorm following wildfire and may persist for several years thereafter. However, the duration of elevated debris-flow hazard following wildfire is poorly understood. The rate of watershed recovery is dependent upon several factors, including the amount of seasonal rainfall, vegetation regrowth, the recovery of soil properties to pre-fire conditions, and a net decrease in sediment availability. These factors are highly variable in both time and space, and an objective method for rapid assessment of watershed recovery does not presently exist, nor is it well-understood how these factors influence the rate of decreases in debris-flow likelihood and potential magnitude as watersheds recover from fire.
We seek a Mendenhall Fellow to advance the understanding of the influence of watershed recovery on debris-flow initiation and magnitude after wildfire. Research is expected to result in the development of a quantitative method for measuring recovery from remotely sensed imagery that can be linked to decreases in runoff production, erosion potential, and the likelihood and potential volume of debris flows. This method will be used to improve hazard assessment and early warning in the years following wildfire.
Proposed Duty Station: Golden, Colorado
Areas of Ph.D.: Earth Science (geology, hydrology, geography, geophysics), engineering, physics, applied mathematics (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines but with knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).
Qualifications: Applicants must meet one of the following qualifications: Research Geologist, Research Hydrologist, Research Geographer, Research Physical Scientist, Research Mathematician, Research Physicist, Research Civil Engineer, Research Engineer.
(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above. However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources Specialist.)
Physical/Environmental Demands: Work is usually performed in an office setting. The work area normally involves everyday risks or discomforts that require normal safety precautions typical of offices or meeting and training rooms. The work may also include some outdoor field work. Field work involves exposure to moderate risks and discomforts, such as those due to adverse weather conditions, such as high winds and low or high temperatures.
Occasional travel - Overnight travel of 1 to 2 nights per month may be required.
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This job originated on www.usajobs.gov. For the full announcement and to apply, visit www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/544762500. Only resumes submitted according to the instructions on the job announcement listed at www.usajobs.gov will be considered.