Satellite-based mapping of Canadian boreal forest fires: evaluation and comparison of algorithms
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Zengyuan Li; S. Nadon; Josef Cihlar; Brian J. Stocks
Publication Year: 2000

Cataloging Information

  • algorithms
  • AVHRR - Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer
  • boreal forest
  • Canada
  • fire
  • NDVI - Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
  • satellite mapping
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 10, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 4577


This paper evaluates annual fire maps that were produced from NOAA-14/AVHRR imagery using an algorithm described in a companion paper (Li et al., International Journal of Remote Sensing, 21, 3057├╗3069, 2000 (this issue)). Burned area masks covering the Canadian boreal forest were created by compositing the daily maps of fire hot spots over the summer and by examining Normalized DiOEerence Vegetation Index ( NDVI) changes after burning. Both masks were compared with fire polygons derived by Canadian fire agencies through aerial surveillance. It was found that the majority of fire events were captured by the satellite-based techniques, but burnt area was generally underestimated. The burn boundary formed by the fire pixels detected by satellite were in good agreement with the polygons boundaries within which, however, there were some fires missed by the satellite. The presence of clouds and low sampling frequency of satellite observation are the two major causes for the underestimation. While this problem is alleviated by taking advantage of NDVI changes, a simple combination of a hot spot technique with a NDVI method is not an ideal solution due to the introduction of new sources of uncertainty. In addition, the performance of the algorithm used in the International Geosphere├╗Biosphere Programme (IGBP) Data and Information System (IGBP-DIS) for global fire detection was evaluated by comparing its results with ours and with the fire agency reports. It was found that the IGBP-DIS algorithm is capable of detecting the majority of fires over the boreal forest, but also includes many false fires over old burned scars created by fires taking place in previous years. A step-by-step comparison between the two algorithms revealed the causes of the problem and recommendations are made to rectify them.

Online Link(s):
Li, Zengyuan; Nadon, S.; Cihlar, Josef; Stocks, Brian J. 2000. Satellite-based mapping of Canadian boreal forest fires: evaluation and comparison of algorithms. International Journal of Remote Sensing 21(16):3071-3082.