USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Fire Severity from a NASA Perspective

Students from the NASA DEVELOP internship program at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California have been working this summer with Dr. Susan Prichard of FERA on a project using satellite imagery to assess burn severity at the 2006 Tripod Complex fire in the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests.

DEVELOP is a National Science Mission Directorate Applied Sciences Program at six NASA centers across the country. The program fosters human capital development to extend NASA Earth Science data and models to local, county, state, federal, and tribal governments. The projects are student-run and student-led and are completed start-to-finish during an intensive 10-week summer term.

In this study, data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor as well as data from Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) 5 are being used to calculate the normalized burn ratio (NBR). The relationship between the near infrared and the shortwave infrared has been found to be sensitive to the vegetation changes caused by fire, and can be used for quantification of burn severity. Satellite data are being used to create classified burn severity maps of the Tripod Complex Fire in the Okanogan National Forest. These maps will be used to perform an analysis of the relationship between burn severity and variables such as landform and vegetation types.

The NASA team spent one week in July 2008 working with FERA crew members collecting field data within the Tripod Fire perimeter. The composite burn ndex (CBI) method was used for ground-based measurements of burn severity which will be used to calibrate satellite measurements. Enhanced burn severity assessment can assist managers in implementing post-fire restoration projects and to anticipate potential fire severity in managed forests and critical wildlife areas.

U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 at 13:04:02 CST

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