Fuel maps are essential for computing spatial fire hazard and risk and simulating fire growth and intensity across a landscape. However, fuel mapping is an extremely difficult and complex process requiring expertise in remotely sensed image classification, fire behavior, fuels modeling, ecology, and geographical information systems (GIS). This paper first presents the challenges of mapping fuels: canopy concealment, fuelbed complexity, fuel type diversity, fuel variability, and fuel model generalization. Then, four approaches to mapping fuels are discussed with examples provided from the literature: (1) field reconnaissance; (2) direct mapping methods; (3) indirect mapping methods; and (4) gradient modeling. A fuel mapping method is proposed that uses current remote sensing and image processing technology. Future fuel mapping needs are also discussed which include better field data and fuel models, accurate GIS reference layers, improved satellite imagery, and comprehensive ecosystem models.
Additional publication details
Mapping wildland fuels for fire management across multiple scales: Integrating remote sensing, GIS, and biophysical modeling