The estimation of burn severity using satellite imagery in a temperate deciduous forest.

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Gallagher, M.R., N.S. Skowronski, K.C. Clark, J.C. Thomas, E. Mueller, M. El Houssami, R. Kremens, A. Filkov, A. Simeoni, and J. Rua. Manuscript in preparation. The estimation of burn severity using satellite imagery in a temperate deciduous forest.

Abstract: New methods for evaluating burn severity across broad spatial extents, using satellite imagery, have enabled new opportunities for wildland fire managers and researchers. While numerous studies have calibrated burn severity for forest types of the western United States, comparatively little research has been conducted in forest types of eastern US, where seasonality modulates wildfire occurrence and reflectance patterns of vegetation. Using common, slightly modified calibration methods, to standardize for seasonal variation in reflectance, we calibrated burn severity for a pitch pine dominated landscape (Pinus rigida Mill.) in the mid-Atlantic United States. This calibration was based on field data observed following dormant and growing season fire, and yielded similarly strong results as presented in studies focused in the western US. This work provides justification for managers and researchers to use this tool for monitoring the effects of wildland fire, evaluating previous management efforts, and justifying future management strategies and budgets. Future work focused on linking specific fire effects, such as forest recovery patterns and avian species occurrence, with burn severity will further enhance the utility of results produced by this methodology.

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