Mapping wildfire burn severity in Southern California forests and shrublands using enhanced thematic mapper imagery

John Rogan, Janet Franklin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

Wildfire is a major disturbance agent in Mediterranean Type Ecosystems (MTEs). Providing reliable, quantitative information on the area of burns and the level of damage caused is therefore important both for guiding resource management and global change monitoring. Previous studies have successfully mapped burn severity using remote sensing, but reliable accuracy has yet to be gained using standard methods over different vegetation types. The objective of this research was to classify burn severity across several vegetation types using Landsat ETM imagery in two areas affected by wildfire in southern California in June 1999. Spectral mixture analysis (SMA) using four reference endmembers (vegetation, soil, shade, non-photosynthetic vegetation) and a single (charcoal-ash) image endmember were used to enhance imagery prior to burn severity classification using decision trees. SMA provided a robust technique for enhancing fire-affected areas due to its ability to extract sub-pixel information and minimize the effects of topography on single date satellite data. Overall kappa classification accuracy results were high (0.71 and 0.85, respectively) for the burned areas, using five canopy consumption classes. Individual severity class accuracies ranged from 0.5 to 0.94.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-106
Number of pages16
JournalGeocarto International
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology

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