Canadian Forest Service Publications

Forest-fire-scar aging using SPOT-VEGETATION for Canadian ecoregions. 2003. Amiro, B.D.; Chen, J.M. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 33(6): 1116-1125.

Year: 2003

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 22373

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (request by e-mail)

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The mapping of Canadian fires is a large effort supported by provincial, territorial, and federal agencies. Remote sensing techniques can aid in mapping, especially in remote areas and during busy fire seasons. The SPOT-VEGETATION (SPOT-VGT) sensor has previously shown promise at distinguishing fire scars on the landscape. The usefulness of SPOT-VGT to age fires in 18 Canadian ecoregions was evaluated for a period up to 50 years since fire, analysing more than 250 000 pixels (nominal resolution about 1 km2). The SPOT-VGT reflectances were evaluated using the ratio of the short-wave infrared band (1.58–1.75 µm) to near-infrared band (0.78–0.89 µm), compared with the Canadian large-fire database (fires greater than 200 ha in size). Nonlinear regressions were significant for all ecoregions with r2 values being greater than 0.57 for 16 of them. Five ecoregions groupings had similar relationships, consistent with their contiguous pattern on the landscape. The prediction of fire-scar age depends on ecoregion and can be successful over periods as short as 6 years to as long as 30 years. The root mean square error for all ecoregions ranged from 5 years for recent burns to about 12 years for three decades following fire. This tool is useful to get approximate fire-scar ages, but the accuracy is limited because of the variation in forest succession on the landscape, and it cannot replace more detailed mapping done currently by fire agencies.