Landsat digital analysis of the initial recovery of the Kokolik River tundra fire area, Alaska
Document Type: Report
Author(s): Dorothy K. Hall; J. P. Ormsby; Lawrence A. Johnson; Jerry Brown
Publication Year: 1979

Cataloging Information

  • fire
  • fire intensity
  • Landsat
  • revegetation
  • spatial analysis
  • tundra
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: April 8, 2016
FRAMES Record Number: 5779


During late July and early August 1977, a wildfire burned a 48 square kilometer area in the tundra of northwestern Alaska near the Kokolik River. The environmental effects of the fire were studied in the field and from aircraft and Landsat data. Three categories of burn severity were delineated using an August 1977 Landsat scene acquired shortly after the fire stopped. Measurable reflectance increases occurred in all three categories of burn severity by the following year as determined from a Landsat image acquired in August 1978. Regrowth of vegetation in the one year period following the fire was measured using Landsat digital data and compared with field measurements from selected portions of the burned area. Live ground cover increased 50 percent in the severely burned portions of the burned area and 50-75 percent in the lightly burned portions as determine from field measurements. Landsat-derived measurement showed an increase of 62.5 percent in reflectance for the severely burned areas, and 53 percent for the light burned areas, which is attributed to regrowth of vegetation. The most severely burned portion of the burned area decreased by 9.6 square kilometers in area in approximately one year according to measurements made using Landsat data. Within the lightly burned portion, 5.9 square kilometers had completely recovered based on spectral response. Prefire terrain and vegetation conditions were also found to influence burn severity. Field measurements showed that high relief area generally burned more completely than lower lying areas. Satellite data before and after the fire confirmed this for much of the burned area.

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Hall, D. K.; Ormsby J. P.; Johnson, Lawrence A.; Brown, Jerry. 1979. Landsat digital analysis of the initial recovery of the Kokolik River tundra fire area, Alaska. NASA Technical Memorandum 80602. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Space Flight Center. Greenbelt, Maryland. 15 pp.