US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Joseph W. Wagenbrenner

Research Hydrologist
1700 Bayview Drive
United States

Contact Joseph W. Wagenbrenner

Current Research

Measurement of the effects of fire and other forest disturbances on soil properties and hydrologic processesAssessments of post-fire hillslope, road, and channel treatments for mitigating runoff, erosion, and sediment transportDevelopment and improvement of modeling parameters used to predict erosionImproving erosion research methodology using photogrammetry and other techniques

Research Interests

I am interested in understanding the complexity of the hydrologic cycle at various spatial and temporal scales. More specific interests include determining the effects that humans have on different components of the hydrologic cycle, understanding the effects of fire and other forest disturbances on hydrologic processes, and identifying the impacts of practices used to mitigate these effects. I am also interested in developing and refining techniques used to quantify or describe hydrologic processes and properties. Combining the new methodology and increased understanding, we can improve our ability to predict the effects of disturbance (fire, timber harvest, roads, etc.) on runoff, erosion, and sediment transport from the hillslope to small catchment scale.

Past Research

My work will help improve our understanding of the natural and human-impacted environments. Among many other aspects, land managers and policy makers need to understand the effects of various management decisions on the hydrologic cycle to make the best management decisions. Fires and other disturbances can cause dramatic impacts to the hydrologic cycle, resulting in risks to safety, health, wildlife habitat, and other human values. Quantifying these impacts will improve our understanding of the risks of these disturbances and therefore improve our ability to predict the responses. Knowing the effectivness of various post-disturbance management techniques in the short and long term will allow land managers to select the most suitable techniques when mitigation is needed and improve those techniques that have less impact.The impacts of human activities, including climate change, on the environment are highly uncertain. One way to reduce this uncertainty is to use predictive models derived from field observations and hydrologic theory to develop likely outcomes. These possible scenarios can then be used to help guide management decisions.

Why This Research is Important

Measuring the effectiveness of post-fire response treatments at mitigating runoff and erosion in the western U.S. (4 peer-reviewed articles)Comparing the relative rill erosion rates of fire and logging skid trails to undisturbed forests (1 peer-reviewed article)Developing rill erosion modeling parameters for disturbed and undisturbed forests (1 peer-reviewed article)Quantifying the post-fire erosion rates in western Montana (1 Forest Service publication)


  • Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, B.M.E. Mechanical Engineering 1993
  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, M.S. Watershed Science 2003
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Ph.D. Candidate Biological Systems Engineering 2012

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Last updated on : 08/24/2016