Lake Michigan, USA - Mary Ellen Miller

I’d always identified with the Ohio River and then I moved to Upstate New York, Lake Ontario and now I’m very blessed to live in Michigan where I’m surrounded Michigan, Superior, Huron, St. Clair and Erie.

I’ve always loved water, and I became interested in wildfire and post fire hydrology. For my dissertation I predicted potential burn severity for the 11 western United States, then I proceeded to erode it with the Water Erosion Prediction Project and after I was finished I started volunteering for Burned Area Emergency Response teams in Colorado. I was very surprised to learn that a lot of BEAR teams, were not able to use process based hydrology models in conjunction with earth observations.

I found out why in 2011, the National Park Service asked me to model the Hospital Canyon with in the, I think it’s the Rock House fire in Texas, and I was not able to do the modelling in time. It took me seven days to get the modelling done, I was one day late and the reason I couldn’t do it was because it wasn’t part of my original dissertation study area. So I had to assemble all the inputs by hand.

I decided, never again, and I created the Rapid Response Erosion database which replaces about a weeks worth of work, it rapidly assembles your topography, your soils data, which is the hard part and your land cover. Both your land cover and your soils are impacted by fire and they change, so now BEAR teams can just have their data inputs in seconds and focus on modelling the effects of their fire.

Then I realized if I include in the database parameters for not burn conditions it could be useful for other applications and that’s why I wanted to share with the Great Lakes community that I have a tool that they could use to predict erosion in the Great Lakes or Phosphorous from agriculture, anything they wanted, hydrologically related.

Lake Michigan, USA
Jessica Gordon
Mary Ellen Miller

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