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George, C, Rowland, C, Gerard, F, Balzter, H (2006). Retrospective mapping of burnt areas in Central Siberia using a modification of the normalised difference water index. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 104(3), 346-359.

The boreal forest contains almost half the total carbon pool of world forest ecosystems, and so has a very significant role in global biogeochemical cycles. The flux of greenhouse gases in and out of these forests is influenced strongly by disturbances such as diseases, logging and predominantly fire. It is important to quantify these disturbances to enable the modelling of major greenhouse gases. However, because of the remoteness and vastness of the boreal forest, little data is available on the type, extent, frequency and severity of these disturbances in Siberia. For burnt areas, two of the more responsive wavelengths are the short wave infra-red (SWIR) and the near infra-red (NIR). These produce a vegetation index, the normalised difference SWIR (NDSWIR) capable of detecting retrospective disturbances. Here we combine the NDSWIR from MODIS imagery acquired in the summer of 2003 with thermal anomaly data from 1992 to 2003 to detect and date areas which burnt at some point between 1992 and 2003. The semi-automated method is called SWIR and Thermal ANomalies for Detecting Disturbances (STANDD) and is complemented by an Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) differencing method using MODIS 2002 and 2003 imagery to ensure reliable detection of area burnt in the year of image acquisition (i.e. 2003). The area of this study covers approximately 3 million km(2) stretching from Lake Baikal in the south to the Laptev Sea in the north, above the Arctic Circle. Landsat ETM+ images were used to validate the shape and areal extent of the burnt areas resulting in an 81% overall accuracy with a kappa coefficient of agreement of 0.63. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



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