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

July 1, 2020

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.

Publication Year 2020
Title Development of a new open-source tool to map burned area and burn severity
Authors Joshua J. Picotte
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70211981
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center