Maps of Fire Occurrence – Spatially Explicit Reconstruction of Recent Fire History using Satellite Remote Sensing

Journal of MapsJournal of Maps, Volume 8, Issue 4, December 2012

Magdalini Pleniou, Fotios Xystrakis, Panayotis Dimopoulos, and Nikos Koutsias

“Maps depicting the spatially explicit fire history of an area, including variables such as fire frequency and fire return interval, are important tools promoting the understanding of processes associated with wildfires (fire ignition and spread), the assessment of the impacts of wildland fires on landscape dynamics, and decisions on appropriate management practices. Remote sensing is a cost- and time-effective alternative to automatically assess a vast amount of spatial information and produce various thematic maps. The aim of this study was to reconstruct the recent fire history of Attica region (Greece), in a spatially explicit mode by means of remote sensing techniques using a series of Landsat images acquired from 1984 to 2011. The results show that the fire scar perimeters were captured with high accuracy. Regression modelling shows that the differences between the area burned estimated from satellite data and that recorded by the forest service can be explained (86.3% of the variance) by the number of satellite images used (standardized coefficient 0.752) followed by the date of the first image (standardized coefficient 0.705). The use of satellite data as the basic source of information alongside automated classification methods should be promoted for the creation of fire history maps. The latter is further supported when considering the long history of data capture from Landsat satellites, which provide a huge, global historical archive of repeat images of the Earth’s surface.”

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