Monitoring a boreal wildfire using multi-temporal Radarsat-1 intensity and coherence images

Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk
By:  and 



Twenty-five C-band Radarsat-1 synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images acquired from the summer of 2002 to the summer of 2005 are used to map a 2003 boreal wildfire (B346) in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska under conditions of near-persistent cloud cover. Our analysis is primarily based on the 15 SAR scenes acquired during arctic growing seasons. The Radarsat-1 intensity data are used to map the onset and progression of the fire, and interferometric coherence images are used to qualify burn severity and monitor post-fire recovery. We base our analysis of the fire on three test sites, two from within the fire and one unburned site. The B346 fire increased backscattered intensity values for the two burn study sites by approximately 5–6 dB and substantially reduced coherence from background levels of approximately 0.8 in unburned background forested areas to approximately 0.2 in the burned area. Using ancillary vegetation information from the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) and information on burn severity from Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) data, we conclude that burn site 2 was more severely burned than burn site 1 and that C-band interferometric coherence data are useful for mapping landscape changes due to fire. Differences in burn severity and topography are determined to be the likely reasons for the observed differences in post-fire intensity and coherence trends between burn sites.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Monitoring a boreal wildfire using multi-temporal Radarsat-1 intensity and coherence images
Series title Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk
DOI 10.1080/19475705.2010.532971
Volume 2
Issue 1
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 18 p.
First page 15
Last page 32
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