Csiszar, IA, Morisette, JT, Giglio, L (2006). Validation of active fire detection from moderate-resolution satellite sensors: The MODIS example in northern Eurasia. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON GEOSCIENCE AND REMOTE SENSING, 44(7), 1757-1764.

This paper discusses the process of validating active fire yes/no binary fire detection products from moderate-resolution satellite sensors. General concepts and practical issues are illustrated by the validation of the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) active fire product in Siberia. Coincident Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) imagery is used to characterize spatial patterns of flaming at sub-MODIS pixel scale. It is shown that for proper evaluation reference fire observations are needed at the scale of the satellite pixel, as only 60% of the MODIS footprints contain single contiguous clusters of ASTER fire pixels. In Siberia the size of a single ASTER fire cluster within the MODIS footprint that has a 50% probability of being flagged as fire is similar to 60, compared to similar to 45 in the Brazilian Amazon, whereas previous radiative transfer simulations suggested similar detection probabilities. The lower-than-expected detection rates in Siberia are largely attributable to flaming underneath heavy smoke, which is not detected by the current MODIS algorithm. Pixel-based and cluster-based omission error rates are derived, and it is shown that the probability of flagging as fire a MODIS pixel which contains a given number of 30-m ASTER fire pixels is typically 3-5 times lower than detecting a contiguous cluster with the same number of ASTER fire pixels. The procedures described are recommended for a consensus active fire validation protocol, but with the inclusion of multiplatform sensor configurations to complement the near-nadir angular sampling from single-platform observations such as MODIS and ASTER on Terra.