Surface mining of coal and subsequent reclamation represent the dominant land use change in the central Appalachian Plateau (CAP) region of the United States. Hydrologic impacts of surface mining have been studied at the plot scale, but effects at broader scales have not been explored adequately. Broad-scale classification of reclaimed sites is difficult because standing vegetation makes them nearly indistinguishable from alternate land uses. We used a land cover data set that accurately maps surface mines for a 187-km2 watershed within the CAP. These land cover data, as well as plot-level data from within the watershed, are used with HSPF (Hydrologic Simulation Program-Fortran) to estimate changes in flood response as a function of increased mining. Results show that the rate at which flood magnitude increases due to increased mining is linear, with greater rates observed for less frequent return intervals. These findings indicate that mine reclamation leaves the landscape in a condition more similar to urban areas rather than does simple deforestation, and call into question the effectiveness of reclamation in terms of returning mined areas to the hydrological state that existed before mining.
Copyright © 2009, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc. This article first appeared in Water Resources Research 45:4 (2009), 1-11.
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Ferrari, J. R., T. R. Lookingbill, B. Mccormick, P. A. Townsend, and K. N. Eshleman. "Surface Mining and Reclamation Effects on Flood Response of Watersheds in the Central Appalachian Plateau Region." Water Resources Research 45, no. 4 (2009). doi:10.1029/2008WR007109.