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Fire hydrology data viz story (carousel)

Detailed Description

The 2020 fire season provided stark evidence that wildfires are changing the landscape of America. But when a forest burns, the impacts on water supply and quality last long after the flames go out.

BEFORE A FIRE: Forests act like a sponge and a water filter, meaning that rainwater can recharge drinking water supplies and only needs minimal treatment before use.

AFTER A FIRE: Forests respond to rainfall as if the ground is covered in a layer of plastic wrap. Water cannot penetrate into the soil. Instead, huge amounts of surface runoff from rainstorms carry ash, sediment and other pollutants downstream into streams and reservoirs, which often means that water treatment costs skyrocket.

Learn more about how wildfires threaten U.S. water supplies – and what we can do to adapt to the complex impacts of hotter and bigger fires in the "How Wildfires Threaten U.S. Water Supplies" data visualization story.


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