Fire Damage Assesment

In the damage assessment module of EFFIS burned areas forest fires were mapped at the end of every fire season, i.e. satellite imagery acquired at the end of September/October every year. This module, which was based on the use of WiFS images of 180m ground spatial resolution, was largely improved in 2007 towards the use of high-spatial resolution satellite imagery.

A test on the improvement in the information obtained by using data acquired by medium to high-spatial resolution sensors as compared to that obtained in the EFFIS Rapid Assessment was performed for the year 2009. Satellite imagery from the Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) on board of the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) with a spatial ground resolution of 56 m or the Disaster Monitoring Constellation satellites (DMC), with a spatial ground resolution of 32 m were used for this purpose. In principle, the spectral and spatial information provided by these satellites would allow the mapping of the burnt scars produced by fires of about 5 to 10 ha or larger. In terms of the total burnt area in Europe, this figure corresponds to over 90% of the area burnt by fires every year.

The maps of burnt areas are further used in conjunction with the EU-CORINE land cover (CLC) database to estimate the damage to forests and other land cover types. 

Results of the above test did not provide an enhance mapping of burtn areas in Europe.  The gain in the mapping of small fires due to the higher spatial resolution of AWIFS or DMC took place with a loss in the number of fires mapped at the beggining of the fire season. The detection and mapping of fires taking place early in the fire season was often obscured by the regrow of vegetation within the burnt areas when images were acquired at the end of the fire season, in late September or October.

Due to the above results, the work in this module was discontinued until high spatial resolution imagery would be available with a higher time frequency. With the openness of the Landsat archive by NASA and the launch of the new ESA Sentinel satellites, the mapping of burnt areas at high spatial resolution may become feasible. The EFFIS team will continue investigating on the potential development of the high-spatial resolution mapping of burnt areas in the coming years.


Sedano, F., Kempeneers, P., Strobl, P., McInerney, D., San-Miguel, J., 2012, Increasing Spatial Detail of Burned Scar Maps Using IRS-AWiFS Data for Mediterranean Europe, Remote Sensing, 4(3):726-744.

Sedano, F., Kempeneers, P., San-Miguel, J., Strobl, P., Vogt, P. (2013) Towards a pan-European burnt scar mapping methodology based on single date medium resolution optical remote sensing data. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 20, 52-59