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

Burn-scar patterns and their effect on regional burnt-area mapping in insular South-East Asia

Jukka Miettinen A C and Soo Chin Liew B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Forest Resource Management, University of Helsinki, Latokartanonkaari 7 (PL27), 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Helsinki, Finland.

B Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP), National University of Singapore, Lower Kent Ridge Road, 119260 Singapore.

C Corresponding author. Email: crsjim@nus.edu.sg

International Journal of Wildland Fire 18(7) 837-847 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF08102
Submitted: 11 July 2008  Accepted: 24 February 2009   Published: 27 October 2009

Abstract

This study aimed to deepen understanding on the limits imposed by burn-scar patterns and size distribution on regional burnt-area mapping with medium to coarse resolution (250–1000 m) satellite imagery in insular South-East Asia. Burnt-area maps based on 16 high-resolution SPOT 4 HRVIR and 5 HRG images were analysed in combination with land-cover and soil maps. Although the number of small burn scars (<25ha) was high throughout the region, the proportion of total burnt-area found in small scars varied remarkably (from 3 to 97%) between study sites. Unlike land cover, soil type was found to be a good indicator for usability of medium to coarse-resolution burnt-area mapping owing to the high occurrence of large burn scars on peatland and other wetland areas. A medium-resolution burnt-area mapping simulation (where 500 × 500-m grid cells containing ≥50% burnt area were considered detectable) resulted in 86% detected burnt area in wetlands (peat and alluvial soils) as opposed to only 33% in non-wetland areas. We thereby conclude that burn scar patterns and size distribution permit reliable regional burnt-area mapping with medium to coarse-resolution satellite imagery in the wetlands of insular South-East Asia, whereas alternative methods may need to be used in non-wetland areas.

Additional keywords: fire, peatland fires.


Acknowledgements

This research was conducted at CRISP at the National University of Singapore. The first author thanks Helsingin Sanomain 100-vuotissäätiö for funding and CRISP for providing the research facility and the SPOT data used in this study. The second author acknowledges support from the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) of Singapore.


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