Li, FJ; Zhang, XY; Kondragunta, S (2020). Biomass Burning in Africa: An Investigation of Fire Radiative Power Missed by MODIS Using the 375 m VIIRS Active Fire Product. REMOTE SENSING, 12(10), 1561.

Biomass burning plays a key role in the interaction between the atmosphere and the biosphere. The nearly two-decade-old Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) active fire product provides critical information (e.g., fire radiative power or FRP) for characterizing fires and estimating smoke emissions. Due to limitations of sensing geometry, MODIS fire detection capability degrades at off-nadir angles and the sensor misses the observation of fires occurring inside its equatorial swath gaps. This study investigates missing MODIS FRP observations using the 375 m Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) active fire data across Africa where fire occurs in the majority of vegetation-covered areas and significantly contributes to global biomass-burning emissions. We first examine the FRP relationship between the two sensors on a continental scale and in grids of seven different resolutions. We find that MODIS misses a considerable number of low-intensity fires across Africa, which results in the underestimation of daily MODIS FRP by at least 42.8% compared to VIIRS FRP. The underestimation of MODIS FRP varies largely with grid size and satellite view angle. Based on comparisons of grid-level FRP from the two sensors, adjustment models are established at seven resolutions from 0.05 degrees-0.5 degrees for mitigating the underestimation of MODIS grid FRP. Furthermore, the investigation of the effect of equatorial swath gaps on MODIS FRP observations reveals that swath gaps could lead to the underestimation of MODIS monthly summed FRP by 12.5%. The quantitative information of missing MODIS FRP helps to improve our understanding of potential uncertainties in the MODIS FRP based applications, especially emissions estimation.