Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Detecting post-fire burn severity and vegetation recovery using multitemporal remote sensing spectral indices and field-collected composite burn index data in a ponderosa pine forest

January 1, 2011

It is challenging to detect burn severity and vegetation recovery because of the relatively long time period required to capture the ecosystem characteristics. Multitemporal remote sensing data can providemultitemporal observations before, during and after a wildfire, and can improve the change detection accuracy. The goal of this study is to examine the correlations between multitemporal spectral indices and field-observed burn severity, and to provide a practical method to estimate burn severity and vegetation recovery. The study site is the Jasper Fire area in the Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota, that burned during August and September 2000. Six multitemporal Landsat images acquired from 2000 (pre-fire), 2001 (post-fire), 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007 were used to assess burn severity. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), enhanced vegetation index (EVI), normalized burn ratio (NBR), integrated forest index (IFI) and the differences of these indices between the pre-fire and post-fire years were computed and analysed with 66 field-based composite burn index (CBI) plots collected in 2002. Results showed that differences of NDVI and differences of EVI between the pre-fire year and the first two years post-fire were highly correlated with the CBI scores. The correlations were low beyond the second year post-fire. Differences of NBR had good correlation with CBI scores in all study years. Differences of IFI had low correlation with CBI in the first year post-fire and had good correlation in later years. A CBI map of the burnt area was produced using regression tree models and the multitemporal images. The dynamics of four spectral indices from 2000 to 2007 indicated that both NBR and IFI are valuable for monitoring long-term vegetation recovery. The high burn severity areas had a much slower recovery than the moderate and low burn areas.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2011
Title Detecting post-fire burn severity and vegetation recovery using multitemporal remote sensing spectral indices and field-collected composite burn index data in a ponderosa pine forest
DOI 10.1080/01431161.2010.524678
Authors Xuexia Chen, James E. Vogelmann, Matt Rollins, Donald Ohlen, Carl H. Key, Limin Yang, Chengquan Huang, Hua Shi
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title International Journal of Remote Sensing
Series Number
Index ID 70032259
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center

Related Content