Nolde, M; Plank, S; Riedlinger, T (2020). An Adaptive and Extensible System for Satellite-Based, Large Scale Burnt Area Monitoring in Near-Real Time. REMOTE SENSING, 12(13), 2162.

In the case of ongoing wildfire events, timely information on current fire parameters is crucial for informed decision making. Satellite imagery can provide valuable information in this regard, since thermal sensors can detect the exact location and intensity of an active fire at the moment the satellite passes over. This information can be derived and distributed in near-real time, allowing for a picture of current fire activity. However, the derivation of the size and shape of an already affected area is more complex and therefore most often not available within a short time frame. For urgent decision making though, it would be desirable to have this information available in near-real time, and on a large scale. The approach presented here works fully automatic and provides perimeters of burnt areas within two hours after the satellite scene acquisition. It uses the red and near-infrared bands of mid-resolution imagery to facilitate continental-scale monitoring of recently occurred burnt areas. To allow for a high detection capacity independent of the affected vegetation type, segmentation thresholds are derived dynamically from contextual information. This is done by using a Morphological Active Contour approach for perimeter determination. The results are validated against semi-automatically derived burnt areas for five wildfire incidents in Europe. Furthermore, these results are compared with three widely used burnt area datasets on a country-wide scale. It is shown that a high detection quality can be reached in near real-time. The large-scale inter-comparison shows that the results coincide with 63% to 76% of the burnt area in the reference datasets. While these established datasets are only available with a time lag of several months or are created by using manual interaction, the presented approach produces results in near-real time fully automatically. This work is therefore supposed to represent a valuable improvement in wildfire related rapid damage assessment.