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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): C. A. Kolden; J. Rogan
Publication Date: February 2013

Wildfires are historically infrequent in the arctic tundra, but are projected to increase with climate warming. Fire effects on tundra ecosystems are poorly understood and difficult to quantify in a remote region where a short growing season severely limits ground data collection. Remote sensing has been widely utilized to characterize wildfire regimes, but primarily from the Landsat sensor, which has limited data acquisition in the Arctic. Here, coarse-resolution remotely sensed data are assessed as a means to quantify wildfire burn severity of the 2007 Anaktuvuk River Fire in Alaska, the largest tundra wildfire ever recorded on Alaska's North Slope. Data from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and downsampled Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) were processed to spectral indices and correlated to observed metrics of surface, subsurface, and comprehensive bum severity. Spectral indices were strongly correlated to surface severity (maximum R2 = 0.88) and slightly less strongly correlated to substrate severity. Downsampled MODIS data showed a decrease in severity one year post-fire, corroborating rapid vegetation regeneration observed on the burned site. These results indicate that widely-used spectral indices and downsampled coarse-resolution data provide a reasonable supplement to often-limited ground data collection for analysis and long-term monitoring of wildfire effects in arctic ecosystems. © 2013 Regents of the University of Colorado.

Citation: Kolden, C. A., and J. Rogan. 2013. Mapping wildfire burn severity in the arctic tundra from downsampled MODIS data. Arctic Antarctic and Alpine Research, v. 45, no. 1, p. 64-76. 10.1657/1938-4246-45.1.64.

Cataloging Information

  • fire case histories
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • forest management
  • tundra
  • wildfires
Tall Timbers Record Number: 29642Location Status: Not in fileCall Number: AvailableAbstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 52509

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.