Development of a new open-source tool to map burned area and burn severity




Accurate and complete geospatial fire occurrence records are important in determining postfire effects, emissions, hazards, and fuel loading inventories. Currently, the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) project maps the fire perimeter and burn severity of all large fires on public lands. Although the MTBS project maps a large proportion of the fire acreage, it maps a smaller proportion of the actual number of fires in the United States, thereby creating a data gap. To fill this data gap, fire scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science Center (EROS; Sioux Falls, South Dakota) proposed creating an open-source Fire Mapping Tool (FMT; available at as part of a two-phase National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Applied Fire Science Program grant. Phase II developed the FMT to map burn perimeters and severity not included in the MTBS database. This paper will focus on Phase II and will explain the algorithms that enhance the FMT’s functionality, demonstrate fire mapping procedures, and provide an example comparison between MTBS analyst fire products and those mapped using the FMT. The overall goal in the production of the FMT was to provide a freely available tool that can be used to map fires anywhere in the world.

Study Area

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Development of a new open-source tool to map burned area and burn severity
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher U.S. Forest Service
Contributing office(s) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 13 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the fire continuum- Preparing for the future of wildland fire
First page 182
Last page 194
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Paradise Fire
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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