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Integrating satellite imagery with simulation modeling to improve burn severity mapping

Posted date: October 07, 2014
Publication Year: 
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Environmental Management. 54(1): 98-111.


Both satellite imagery and spatial fire effects models are valuable tools for generating burn severity maps that are useful to fire scientists and resource managers. The purpose of this study was to test a new mapping approach that integrates imagery and modeling to create more accurate burn severity maps. We developed and assessed a statistical model that combines the Relative differenced Normalized Burn Ratio, a satellite image-based change detection procedure commonly used to map burn severity, with output from the Fire Hazard and Risk Model, a simulation model that estimates fire effects at a landscape scale. Using 285 Composite Burn Index (CBI) plots in Washington and Montana as ground reference, we found that an integrated model explained more variability in CBI (R2 = 0.47) and had lower mean squared error (MSE = 0.28) than image (R2 = 0.42 and MSE = 0.30) or simulation-based models (R2 = 0.07 and MSE = 0.49) alone. Overall map accuracy was also highest for maps created with the Integrated Model (63 %). We suspect that Simulation Model performance would greatly improve with higher quality and more accurate spatial input data. Results of this study indicate the potential benefit of combining satellite image-based methods with a fire effects simulation model to create improved burn severity maps.


Karau, Eva C.; Sikkink, Pamela G.; Keane, Robert E.; Dillon, Gregory K. 2014. Integrating satellite imagery with simulation modeling to improve burn severity mapping. Environmental Management. 54(1): 98-111.
National Strategic Program Areas: 
Wildland Fire and Fuels