International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Indicators of burn severity at extended temporal scales: a decade of ecosystem response in mixed-conifer forests of western Montana

Sarah A. Lewis A D , Andrew T. Hudak A , Peter R. Robichaud A , Penelope Morgan B , Kevin L. Satterberg B , Eva K. Strand B , Alistair M. S. Smith B , Joseph A. Zamudio C and Leigh B. Lentile B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A USDA, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, 1221 South Main Street, Moscow, ID 83843, USA.

B Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, University of Idaho, 975 West 6th Street, Moscow, ID 83844, USA.

C Unmanned Aircraft Systems USA (UASUSA), 229 Airport Road, East Hangar, Longmont, CO 80503, USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: sarahlewis@fs.fed.us

International Journal of Wildland Fire 26(9) 755-771 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF17019
Submitted: 17 February 2016  Accepted: 12 June 2017   Published: 6 September 2017

Journal Compilation © IAWF 2017 Open Access CC BY-NC-ND

Abstract

We collected field and remotely sensed data spanning 10 years after three 2003 Montana wildfires to monitor ecological change across multiple temporal and spatial scales. Multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis was used to create post-fire maps of: char, soil, green (GV) and non-photosynthetic (NPV) vegetation from high-resolution 2003 hyperspectral (HS) and 2007 QuickBird (QB) imagery, and from Landsat 5 and 8 imagery collected on anniversary dates in 2002, 2003 (post fire), 2004, 2007 and 2013. Initial estimates of char and NPV from the HS images were significantly correlated with their ground-measured counterparts (ρ = 0.60 (P = 0.03) and 0.68 (P = 0.01) respectively), whereas HS GV and Landsat GV were correlated with canopy GV (ρ = 0.75 and 0.70 (P = 0.003) respectively). HS imagery had stronger direct correlations with all classes of fine-scale ground data than Landsat and also had stronger predictive correlations with 10-year canopy data (ρ = 0.65 (P = 0.02) to 0.84 (P = 0.0003)). There was less than 5% understorey GV cover on the sites initially, but by 2013, it had increased to nearly 60% regardless of initial condition. The data suggest it took twice as long for understorey GV and NPV to replace char and soil as primary ground cover components on the high-burn-severity sites compared with other sites.

Additional keywords: char, hyperspectral remote sensing, multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis, QuickBird.


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