Remote sensing and hydrological modeling of burn scars
Miller, Mary Ellen
MetadataShow full item record
This study examined the potential usefulness of combining remote sensing data with hydrologic models and mapping tools available from Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to evaluate the effects of wildfire. Four subprojects addressed this issue: (1) validation of burn scar maps derived from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) with the National Fire Occurrence Database; (2) testing the potential of thermal MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data for near-real time burn scar and fire severity mapping; (3) evaluation of Landsat derived burn severity maps within WEPP through the Geo-spatial interface for the Water Erosion Prediction Project (GeoWEPP), and (4) predicting potential post-fire erosion for western U.S. forests utilizing existing datasets and models. Wildfire poses incredibly complex management problems in all of its stages. Today's land managers have the option of trying to mitigate the effects of a severe fire before it occurs by fuel management practices. This process is expensive especially considering the uncertainty of when and where the next fire in a given region will occur. When a wildfire does occur, deciding when to let it burn and when to suppress it may lead to controversial decisions. In addition to the threat to life and property from the fire itself, smoke emissions from large fires can cause air quality problems in distant airsheds. Even after the fire is extinguished, erosion and water quality problems may pose difficult management questions. Contributions stemming from these studies include improved burn scar maps for studying historical fire extent and demonstration of the feasibility of using thermal satellite data to predict burn scar extent when clouds and smoke obscure visible bands. The incorporation of Landsat derived burn severity maps was shown to improve post-fire erosion modeling results. Finally the potential post-fire burn severity and erosion risk maps generated for western US forests will be used for planning pre-fire fuel reduction treatments.