Using MODIS-NDVI for the Modeling of Post-Wildfire Vegetation Response as a Function of Environmental Conditions and Pre-Fire Restoration Treatments

Remote Sensing, 2012, 4(3), 598-621

Jose Raul Romo Leon, Willem J.D. van Leeuwen, and Grant M. Casady

“Post-fire vegetation response is influenced by the interaction of natural and anthropogenic factors such as topography, climate, vegetation type and restoration practices. Previous research has analyzed the relationship of some of these factors to vegetation response, but few have taken into account the effects of pre-fire restoration practices. We selected three wildfires that occurred in Bandelier National Monument (New Mexico, USA) between 1999 and 2007 and three adjacent unburned control areas. We used interannual trends in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) time series data derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) to assess vegetation response, which we define as the average potential photosynthetic activity through the summer monsoon. Topography, fire severity and restoration treatment were obtained and used to explain post-fire vegetation response.

Monsoon trend for each pixel within the fire and the reference areas were computed.

Monsoon trend for each pixel within the fire and the reference areas were computed. For Frijoles Canyon (A) the trend is calculated from 2008 to 2010, for Mid Elevation Mesas (B) from 2000 to 2010, and for Capulin (C) from 2006 to 2010.

“We applied parametric (Multiple Linear Regressions-MLR) and non-parametric tests (Classification and Regression Trees-CART) to analyze effects of fire severity, terrain and pre-fire restoration treatments (variable used in CART) on post-fire vegetation response. MLR results showed strong relationships between vegetation response and environmental factors (p < 0.1), however the explanatory factors changed among treatments. CART results showed that beside fire severity and topography, pre-fire treatments strongly impact post-fire vegetation response. Results for these three fires show that pre-fire restoration conditions along with local environmental factors constitute key processes that modify post-fire vegetation response.”