Assessing fire severity in semi-arid environments: application in Donceles 2012 wildfire (SE Spain)

E. Gómez-Sánchez, J. de las Heras, M. Lucas-Borja, D. Moya

Abstract

Post-fire management should be based on a proper evaluation of fire damage (burn severity), mainly for Large Fires (>500 ha). Several methodologies have been developed based on remote sensing information validated with fieldwork. The most widespread techniques was the assessment of fire severity indices obtained from remote sensing. It allow a quick assessment of large areas at affordable costs, although the analysis of soil burn severity and the degree of agreement with the ground truth is not fully reliable. Our study case was the Donceles fire (summer 2012, Hellín, Albacete). The post-fire restoration planning, emergency actions, was based on cartographic information of burn severity. To optimize results in a short time and low budget, we applied methodologies in a similar way other similar fires in the Mediterranean peninsular area. We assessed burn severity by using spectral indices (NDVI, dNBR, RdNBR and RBR) and images from Landsat-7 (including banded) and Deimos-1. For each index, we developed both supervised and unsupervised classifications, using field data as training areas. The highest overall reliability values were found for dNBR (79%) and NBR (71%), obtaining low values with RdNBR. In all cases, the reliability was higher using the supervised classification, so using real-ground data to identify the categories of severity to be discriminated. We conclude the need to extend fire studies in our area to improve the reliability of the fire severity assessment obtained from spectral indexes, thus establishing a protocol of data collection and standard methodology of calculation adapted to the characteristics of the region.


Keywords

NBR; NDVI; fire severity; post-fire management

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References

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