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Estimating subpixel fire sizes and temperatures from ASTER using multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis

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The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) shortwave infrared subsystem can acquire images of active fires during daytime and night-time from a polar orbit, providing useful data on fire properties at a nominal spatial resolution of 30 m. Binary fire/no-fire counts of ASTER pixels have also been useful in evaluating the performance of widely-used fire products from the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), which have a nominal spatial resolution of 1 km. However, the ASTER fire pixels are actually mixed pixels that can contain flaming, smouldering and non-burning components, and ASTER fire pixel counts provide no information about the sizes or temperatures of these subpixel components. This paper uses multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis (MESMA) to estimate subpixel fire sizes and temperatures from a night-time ASTER image of a fire in California, USA, demonstrating new methods that can provide information on fires not available from other sources. As a fire's size and its temperature exert strong influences on its gas and aerosol emissions, ecological impact and spreading rates, these MESMA estimates from ASTER imagery could contribute valuable new information towards monitoring, forecasting and understanding the behaviour and impacts of many fires worldwide.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geography Department and Institute for Computational Earth System Science, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Publication date: 01 January 2009

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