Burn severity metrics in fire-prone pine ecosystems along a climatic gradient using Landsat imagery

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Fernández-García, V., Santamarta, M., Fernández-Manso, A., Quintano, C., Marcos, E., Calvo, L. (2018) - Burn severity metrics in fire-prone pine ecosystems along a climatic gradient using Landsat imagery - Remote Sensing of Environment

Multispectral imagery is a widely used source of information to address post-fire ecosystem management. The

aim of this study is to evaluate the ability of remotely sensed indices derived from Landsat 8 OLI/TIRS to assess

initial burn severity (overall, on vegetation and on soil) in fire-prone pine forests along the Mediterranean-

Transition-Oceanic climatic gradient in the Mediterranean Basin. We selected four large wildfires which affected

pine forests in a climatic gradient within the Iberian Peninsula. In each wildfire we established CBI plots to

obtain field values of three burn severity metrics: site, vegetation and soil burn severity. The ability of 13

spectral indices to match these three field burn severity metrics was compared and their transferability along the

climatic gradient assessed using linear regression models. Specifically, we analysed the performance of 12 indices

previously used for burn severity assessments (8 reflective, 2 thermal, 2 mixed) and a new reflective index

(dNBR-EVI). The results showed that Landsat spectral indices have a greater ability to determine site and vegetation

burn severity than soil burn severity. We found large differences in indices performances among the

three different climatic regions, since most indices performed better in the Mediterranean and Transition regions

than in the Oceanic one. In general, the dNBR-EVI showed the best fit to site, vegetation and soil burn severity in

the three regions, demonstrating broad transferability along the entire climatic gradient.

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