International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Direct estimation of Byram’s fire intensity from infrared remote sensing imagery

Joshua M. Johnston A B E , Martin J. Wooster B C , Ronan Paugam B D , Xianli Wang A , Timothy J. Lynham A and Lynn M. Johnston A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, 1219 Queen Street E, Sault Ste Marie, ON, P6A 2E5, Canada.

B King’s College London, Department of Geography, Strand, London WC2R 2LS, UK.

C Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), UK.

D College of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Mailbox 352100, Seattle, WA, 98195, USA.

E Corresponding author. Email: joshua.johnston@canada.ca

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(8) 668-684 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16178
Submitted: 20 September 2016  Accepted: 10 May 2017   Published: 29 June 2017

Abstract

Byram’s fire intensity (IB,tot; kW m–1) is one the most important and widely accepted metrics for quantifying wildfire behaviour. Calculation of IB,tot requires measurement of fuel consumption, heat of combustion and rate of spread; existing methods for obtaining these measurements are either inexact or at times impossible to obtain in the field. This paper presents and evaluates a series of remote sensing methods for directly deriving radiative fire intensity (IB,rad; kW m–1) using the Fire Radiative Power (FRP) approach applied to thermal infrared imagery of spreading vegetation fires. Comparisons between the remote sensing data and ground-sampled measurements were used to evaluate the various estimates of IB,tot, and to determine the radiative fraction (radF) of a fire’s emitted energy. Results indicate that the IB,tot along an advancing flame front can be reasonably estimated (and agrees with traditional methods of estimation (R2 = 0.34–0.73)) from appropriately collected time-series of remote sensing imagery without the need for ground sampling or ancillary data. We further estimate that the radF of the fire’s emitted energy varies between 0.15 and 0.20 depending on the method of calculation, which is similar to previous estimates.


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