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Studying the Runoff Effects of an Environmental Double Whammy

June 2022

As Hurricane Rosa hurtled toward Baja California in October 2018, two BYU students spotted a valuable research opportunity.

Utah County, still smoldering from the devastating Pole Creek megafire that same year, was forecast to receive days of heavy rain in the wake of the hurricane’s landfall. For months Trevor Crandall and Erin Jones had been collecting water samples in Utah Lake’s tributaries to understand how land use and wildfires affect stream and lake health. Now they had a rare chance to observe how back-to-back extreme events influenced water quality and quantity.

“In just a couple of hours, we got all the instruments ready to deploy,” Jones said. “That evening we finished installing our last sampler just as the first drops began to fall on the burn scar. The data we collected overnight was unlike any other.”

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE in a special issue on freshwater ecosystems, and the data may be used to shape policy and to prepare for and respond to future extreme events.

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Read more at BYU News.