The Rapid Damage Assessment (RDA) module of EFFIS was initially implemented in 2003 to map burned areas during the fire season, by analyzing MODIS daily images at 250 m spatial resolution. For the monitoring of burned areas during the summer, daily images from the MODIS instruments on board of TERRA and AQUA satellites are acquired and processed few hours after the acquisition. The EFFIS Since 2003 until 2017, the Rapid Damage Assessment provided the daily update of the perimeters of burnt areas in Europe for fires of about 30 ha or larger, twice every day. Since 2018, the use of Sentinel-2 imagery allows the detection of fires below the 30 ha threshold and it is estimated that the areas mapped in EFFIS represent about 95% of the total area that burns in the EU every year.
Since the year 2016, the RDA incorporates the mapping of active fires and burnt areas from the VIIRS Sensor, onboard the NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) and the NOAA-20 , which allows the update of burnt areas maps one more time, every day.
MODIS/SENTINEL-2 Burnt Areas
This process involves the delineation of the extent of forest fire events based on the semi-automatic classification of MODIS satellite imagery using ancillary spatial datasets. Testing on the use of MODIS data for mapping burnt areas in Europe was performed between the years 2000 and 2002, and the first map of burnt areas using this imagery was obtained in 2003. Until then maps of fire perimeters (burnt areas) were obtained only at the end of the fire campaign, i.e. end of September/October. After 2003 the processing chain was further automated to process MODIS data in near-real time. Daily, two full image mosaics the European territory are processed in EFFIS to derive burnt area maps, every day. Additionally, since 2018, Sentinel-2 imagery is used to map fires, which allows the mapping of fires smaller than 30 ha and refining the final perimeters of those fires initially mapped from MODIS 250 m imagery.
Fires are mapped using a semi-automatic procedure. Fires are first mapped on the basis of an unsupervised procedure that uses a combination of band thresholds and ancillary information from the CORINE Land Cover, the active-fire detection product from MODIS and VIIRS, and the fire news application. Fires that are mapped by the unsupervised procedure are visually verified and corrected through visual interpretation of the MODIS and Sentinel-2 images.
IMPORTANT NOTE - For any use of the EFFIS Burnt Area product the conditions listed below must be taken into consideration:
Although only a fraction of the total number of fires is mapped, the area burned by fires mapped in EFFIS represents about 95% of the total area burned in EU. An overall estimate of the total burnt area in the EU is provided on the home page of EFFIS.
In order to obtain the statistics of the burnt area by land cover type, the data from the CORINE Land Cover database are used. Therefore the mapped burned areas are overlaid to land cover maps, allowing an assessment of damage to be made that is harmonized for all the European Countries.
VIIRS Burnt Areas
Data from the VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) on board the NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (SNPP) and the NOAA-20 are also used for the mapping of burnt areas in EFFIS. The perimeters of the fires derived from VIIRS are generated using algorithms that derive polygons on the basis of the active fires retrieved from this sensor. Accordingly, the fire perimeters are directly derived from the coordinates of active fires, which permits near-real time processing, even in light cloudy or smoke situations.
These fire perimeters are thus produced just after the pass of the satellite and the acquisition of the data, without the need to perform the classification of the satellite imagery. Since the procedure is automatic and based on delineating polygons, the fire perimeters may have sharper shapes than those produced from the classification of MODIS imagery (above section). For the spatial resolution of the fire perimeters, it must be noted that the nominal spatial resolution of VIIRS active fire detection is 375 m.
VIIRS derived data on burnt areas are not yet used in EFFIS to compute burnt area statistics; they are only displayed in the EFFIS "current situation viewer."