Estimating burn severity at the regional level using optically based indices
Abstract:During the last decades, the average number of fires per year increased significantly. A twofold increase was observed in the Mediterranean Basin, whereas in the western United States, the increase was fourfold. Regional models for burn severity estimation are necessary to avoid time consuming and costly fieldwork at each individual site. Furthermore, the estimation errors should be assessed by burn severity classes to avoid overestimating models accuracy. To develop such models, this study assessed the relationship between the composite burn index (CBI) and several spectral indices across five burned sites in northeastern Spain. The nonlinear models coupled with spectral indices containing information from the short wavelength infrared provided the best statistical fit of the data at most individual sites and for the pooled data set. The estimation errors for highly burned sites were well below 10%, but for burned sites of low and moderate severity, the errors increased significantly. A strong linear relation was found between burn severity at the plot level and understory and overstory composites. This study demonstrates (i) the model consistency at the regional level and (ii) the need for new estimation methods in areas affected by low to moderate burn severities, even for relatively homogeneous forests.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: April 8, 2011
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- Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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