Loboda, T, O'Neal, KJ, Csiszar, I (2007). Regionally adaptable dNBR-based algorithm for burned area mapping from MODIS data. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 109(4), 429-442.
Recent advances in instrument design have led to considerable improvements in wildfire mapping at regional and global scales. Global and regional active fire and burned area products are currently available from various satellite sensors. While only global products can provide consistent assessments of fire activity at the global, hemispherical or continental scales, the efficiency of their performance differs in various ecosystems. The available regional products are hard-coded to the specifics of a given ecosystem (e.g. boreal forest) and their mapping accuracy drops dramatically outside the intended area. We present a regionally adaptable semi-automated approach to mapping burned area using Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. This is a flexible remote sensing/GIS-based algorithm which allows for easy modification of algorithm parameterization to adapt it to the regional specifics of fire occurrence in the biome or region of interest. The algorithm is based on Normalized Burned Ratio differencing (dNBR) and therefore retains the variability of spectral response of the area affected by fire and has the potential to be used beyond binary burned/unburned mapping for the first-order characterization of fire impacts from remotely sensed data. The algorithm inputs the MODIS Surface Reflectance 8-Day Composite product (MOD09A1) and the MODIS Active Fire product (MOD14) and outputs yearly maps of burned area with dNBR values and beginning and ending dates of mapping as the attributive information. Comparison of this product with high resolution burn scar information from Landsat ETM+ imagery and fire perimeter data shows high levels of accuracy in reporting burned area across different ecosystems. We evaluated algorithm performance in boreal forests of Central Siberia, Mediterranean-type ecosystems of California, and sagebrush steppe of the Great Basin region of the US. In each ecosystem the MODIS burned area estimates were within 15% of the estimates produced by the high resolution base with the R-2 between 0.87 and 0.99. In addition, the spatial accuracy of large burn scars in the boreal forests of Central Siberia was also high with Kappa values ranging between 0.76 and 0.79. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.