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Using SPOT-4 HRVIR and VEGETATION sensors to assess impact of tropical forest fires in Roraima, Brazil

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Due to the El NiƱo phenomenon, the 1997-1998 dry season in Roraima (Brazil, Amazonia) was particularly pronounced. Consequently, vegetation fires spread widely and were monitored by many satellites in real time. Satellite images are currently being used to monitor vegetation fires either globally for climate studies or more regionally for impact assessment. After reviewing different satellite data used for impact assessment, this paper focuses on the contribution of SPOT-4's imagery provided by high resolution HRVIR and coarse resolution VEGETATION sensors. These sensors are described with emphasis on those characteristics of potential benefit for forest mapping and fire detection. Early images of Roraima from SPOT-4 are analysed and interpreted to delineate the areas already damaged by fire. VEGETATION images provide a first estimate of damaged areas on a regional scale and an indication of the main ecosystems affected. SPOT HRVIR is used to establish a much more precise classification of various ecosystems. Each vegetation class is associated with a biomass density. From the known burned areas, an estimate of burned biomass during the 1998 dry season is computed, as well as total carbon release. On an intensive study site of 20 400 km2, 3060 km2 of savannahs and crops and 6980 km2 of forest have been burned; the corresponding carbon release is estimated as 210 000 t for croplands and savannahs and 23 M t for the evergreen seasonal forest. The estimated burnt surface areas derived from VEGETATION are then cross-validated with HRVIR and thus an attempt is made to extrapolate the burned biomass with the help of VEGETATION on a regional scale.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 20 May 2002

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