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Veraverbeke, S, Lhermitte, S, Verstraeten, WW, Goossens, R (2010). The temporal dimension of differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) fire/burn severity studies: The case of the large 2007 Peloponnese wildfires in Greece. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 114(11), 2548-2563.

The temporal dimension of differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) fire/burn severity studies was studied for the case of the large 2007 Peloponnese wildfires in Greece. Fire severity is defined as the degree of environmental change as measured immediately post-fire, whereas burn severity combines the direct fire impact and ecosystems responses. Geo Composite Burn Index (GeoCBI), two pre-/post-fire differenced Thematic Mapper (TM) dNBR assessments and a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) dNBR time series were used to analyze the temporal dimension. MODIS dNBR time series were calculated based on the difference between the NBR of the burned and control pixels, which were retrieved using time series similarity of a pre-fire year. The analysis incorporated the optimality statistic, which evaluates index performance based on displacements in the mid-infrared-near infrared bi-spectral space. Results showed a higher correlation between field and TM data early post-fire (R-2=0.72) than one-year post-fire (R-2=0.56). Additionally, mean dNBR (0.56 vs. 0.29), the dNBR standard deviation (0.29 vs. 0.19) and mean optimality (0.65 vs. 0.47) were clearly higher for the initial assessment than for the extended assessment. This is due to regenerative processes that obscured first-order fire effects impacting the suitability of the dNBR to assess burn severity in this case study. This demonstrates the importance of the lag timing, i.e. time since fire, of an assessment, especially in a quickly recovering Mediterranean ecosystem. The MODIS time series was used to study intra-annual changes in index performance. The seasonal timing of an assessment highly impacts what is actually measured. This seasonality affected both the greenness of herbaceous resprouters and the productivity of the control pixels, which is land cover specific. Appropriate seasonal timing of an assessment is therefore of paramount importance to anticipate false trends (e.g. caused by senescence). Although these findings are case study specific, it can be expected that similar temporal constraints affect assessments in other ecoregions. Therefore, within the limitations of available Landsat imagery, caution is recommended for the temporal dimension when assessing post-fire effects. This is crucial, especially for studies that aim to evaluate trends in fire/burn severity across space and time. Also, clarification in associated terminology is suggested. (C) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



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